tablesetting complete with forks, knives, and spoons, and a baby on the plate in the center above the words "A Modest Proposal"

A Modest Proposal

by Jonathan Swift

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What other "expedients" does the author suggest in "A Modest Proposal"?

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In "A Modest Proposal," the narrator lists other "expedients" like taxing absentee landlords, using domestic products, reducing women's vanity, exercising prudence, and fostering love for Ireland. He dismisses these reasonable solutions as impractical to highlight the absurdity of his own proposal and criticize the indifference of the wealthy towards the Irish poor.

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The clueless narrator of "A Modest Proposal" lists some other "expedients" (solutions) to the problem of poverty after he has outlined his own proposal in great detail. His proposal is to fatten, kill, and sell for food the infants of the poor when they are a year old.

The narrator does admit that there are other solutions than his own, but he goes on to dismiss these solutions as impractical and unworkable. He means, as a result, to increase the value of his own proposal as something that the rich might actually embrace as a good method of alleviating poverty.

These reasonable solutions to poverty are all proposals Swift, a clergyman, had suggested in the past, only to find them ignored. He wrote "A Modest Proposal" out of frustration with the way the suffering of the Irish poor was ignored. He wanted to shock his readers into taking action. Therefore, it makes sense to focus on the solutions Swift wished people would adopt rather than barbaric ideas of the narrator.

Swift, for example, has the narrator suggest a small property tax on absentee landlords to be used for poor relief. He also, perhaps not surprisingly for a clergyman, calls for the moral reform of the rich: if they did not live so extravagantly, he argues, they would not have to wrest every penny out of the poor. He also calls for moral reform of the shopkeepers, saying they should learn not to exploit and cheat the poor. Finally, he asks for the rich to embrace and love Ireland and buy items made by the Irish rather than relying on imported goods. This would provide employment for the Irish poor.

Often people stop aghast at the narrator's cannibalistic proposal without going onto to consider the more reasonable solutions.

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Ultimately, Swift's narrator isn't actually offering other suggestions or expedients—he believes that his proposal is the best one—but, rather, he declares that "no man [should] talk to [him]" of these other potential measures for dealing with the Irish because there is no "glimpse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice." This is still Swift's narrator speaking, but, Swift, through this narrator, insinuates that people are too corrupt, too vain, too lazy, and too lacking in mercy and compassion to actually pursue these other possible expedients, and this is the reason he has had to pen such a ludicrous piece of satire in the first place.

He says that one such expedient would be to tax the English who live abroad. A second would be to use only products that are "of our own growth and manufacture"—items made at home and not abroad. Third, he says that citizens could reject "the materials and instruments that promote foreign luxury." If people stop buying foreign imports, then more money stays at home, instead of making other countries richer. Fourth, he says that they might cure the "expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming in our women." Vain women could spend less money on frivolous things, and this money could be put to better use: i.e., helping the poor. Fifth, the English might begin to exercise "parsimony, prudence and temperance." Similarly, extras could go to help others survive. Sixth, they could learn to "love [their] country." If the English could learn to think of the Irish as their countrymen and women, then they might care more about helping Ireland. Seventh, they might quit their "animosities and factions" and cease in-fighting. Eighth, they could be more "cautious not to sell [their] country and consciences for nothing." Ninth, landlords could be taught to "have at least one degree of mercy toward their tenants." They could stop raising the rents to an amount that the poor Irish tenant farmers cannot afford while still managing to feed their families. Finally, tenth, shopkeepers could be prevailed upon to exercise "honesty, industry, and skill," dealing justly with the public.

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Your original question contained two questions. You are not allowed to ask multiple questions in enotes, so I have edited the second question and will focus on your first. Please remember to only ask one question in the future.

Interestingly, towards the end of his essay, having unveiled his master plan to solve the famine in Ireland, Swift goes on to actually make some very good suggestions that would work to alleviate the suffering. These normally appear in italics to indicate Swift's sincerity and are referred to as "expedients" by Swift. These ideas include the following: taxing English landowners who refuse to live on their property, only using home produced clothes and furniture, becoming more temperate and frugal and not devoting oneself to idle pursuits such as gambling, learning to love Britain and leaving animosities behind, teaching landlords to look after their tenants and generally not seeking to exploit others.

Interestingly, all of these measures were actually advocated by Swift during his lifetime. Although overtly the pamphlet appears to be against these "expedients," it is clear that Swift is emphasising Britain's complete and abject failure to take steps to alleviate the misery of the poor in Ireland. The text is very dismissive of these logical and sensible decisions, just as Britain has been dismissive of them previously.

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