Questions: “A Modest Proposal”
In the first
two paragraphs, the speaker describes the thousands of beggars and
their multitudes of children that crowd the streets of cities in
He says that the
women who have many children can't get work, so the children
eventually grow up to be thieves, slaves, or Catholics in order to
make a livelihood.
describes a poor society that is in a deadly cycle.
suggests that children are ready to be useful to his plan at the
or when they are one
year old and can can live without suckling their mothers' breasts.
comments about stealing contain situational irony because he
claims that children steal at the age of six, though they are
perceived as the most innocent and kind of creatures.
He also uses
verbal irony in calling thievery an “art” and calling people who
have reached six years of age who have begun to steal
“probationers” or apprentices. He's ironically calling
thievery an honourable trade.
Swift is actually proposing that one hundred thousand children be
sold off to the rich to be eaten at parties and common dinner
paragraph, the speaker of the essay reveals that he does not like
papists (Catholics) in saying that eating Catholic children will
reduce their numbers greatly.
the economics of his proposal, the speaker is making a logical
appeal, as it appeals to one's sense of economic reason: a woman
who sells her child for meat will make a profit of eight shillings
and still be able to work until she can bear another.
speaker suggests, “dressing” children “hot from the knife”,
he expects his word choice to create disgust and revulsion in the
minds of his “civil” readers, which is ironic.
takes up the problem of the over hunting of deer in Ireland;
briefly, there are no more deer to feed people. Thus, his
suggestion to his readers is that the meat of children between
twelve and fourteen should be considered a replacement for the
aforementioned animal's. This suggestion is similar to his main
proposal in that it is mainly economic and practical: it serves
the purpose of feeding people.
speaker's proposal would greatly lessen the number of Catholics
proposal would provide the tenants with money by which they could pay
proposal would increase the nation's stock by fifty thousand pounds
d The speaker's
proposal would save the constant breeders the extra money of raising
e. The speaker's
proposal would make the taverns better places and their patrons more
f. The speaker's
proposal would reduce the incidents of men beating their wives; the
wives would be so oft pregnant that the husbands wouldn't dare beat
them for fear of killing the child inside.
people who are adults already will benefit from these “advantages”,
however any children in the society that aren't set aside for
breeding will suffer: they will die.
anticipates the objection that, “...the number of people will be
thereby lessened in the kingdom.” He answers this objection the
fact that he is proposing this solution for Ireland only, and no
other country that ever was or ever will be.
a. The Irish tax the people who own the land
that aren't working on it.
b. The Irish only
use Irish made products
c. The people of
Ireland completely reject foreign “luxury” items.
d. The women of
Ireland work to become less vain and lazy
e. The people of
Ireland work to become thrifty and prudent.
f. The people of
Ireland should gain more national pride, just like the Tupinamba.
g. The Irish
unite as one people, generally realize that they are one.
h. The Irish keep
their consciences intact.
I. That Irish
landlords show some kindness to their tenants.
J. Shopkeepers of
Ireland reform their ways to become more honest and hard working.
in this concluding paragraph are the ideas that he has no
children who would suffer from his proposal, nor can he gain
anymore because his wife cannot have children.
This is ironic
because we expect Swift to be sympathetic to the cause, but he
really can't understand what its like for one's offspring to be
taken, sold and eaten because he has no children of his own