A Modest Proposal and English Gentry Essay

Submitted By jahst263
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Julie Hebert Johnathan Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal” in 1729. He wanted to show that Ireland at this time period was in disarray and propose a plan to inspire others to work towards a solution. What he wanted his readers to do was to take action to make Ireland a better place. Ireland in the 1720’s was going through another famine and had beggars with children littering the streets. His absurdity in his writing lets the reader infer that this piece is in fact a satire. If someone were to honestly propose this they would be out of their mind. Swift wanted the English gentry, who owned most of the land, to react to the famine of the people and do something to make it better. Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal” to demonstrate the disparity of the people of Ireland. There were beggars all over the street, usually with several children as well. Women who were forced to beg for food for their children with no man to support them. Some women are even driven to having their husbands beat them hoping for a miscarriage; one less mouth to feed with the way the country was in. Swift writes “There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that is will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas, too frequent among us, sacrificing the poor innocent babes, I doubt, more to avoid the expense that the shame, which would move tears and pity in the most savage and inhuman breast.” Children were too young to work and would be forced to beg for alms as well. Mothers doing nothing to discourage them, for it was necessary for survival at this point. Swift thought children a burden. For without children there would be less mouths to provide for, mothers could work, and fathers would be better nourished to work. Swift’s actual message was that the English gentry, who owned most of the land, needed to take action to help the poor people of Ireland. Swift wanted to demonstrate in “A Modest Proposal” that there are solutions that could be worked out…but at what cost. If the English gentry would not step in then why not take matters into our own hands, even at the cost of our humanity. Swift’s proposal was that the newborn babes be taken care of for the first year of life. They be nurtured, feed, fattened to create a new food source. “I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old at most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled, and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout.” Swift is proposing to the people of Ireland to eat the children; turn to cannibals. “I have reckoned upon a medium, that a child just born will weigh twelve pounds, and in a solar year if tolerably nursed increaseth to twenty-eight pounds.” The plan he proposes would no doubt work, it is thoroughly justified in his own way. He knows what he is telling people to do and why he is doing it. It will be a constant food source for the entire of Ireland throughout the year. “Infant's flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after; for we are told by a grave author, an eminent French physician, that fish being a prolific diet, there are more children born in Roman Catholic countries about nine months after Lent than at any other season; therefore, reckoning a year after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of popish infants is at least three to one in this kingdom: and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of papists among us.” After making his proposal and giving the people of Ireland more than enough cause to pursue it he goes on to explain his reasoning behind it. Swift continues his explanation by listing the ways in which his proposal will help the people of Ireland. “For first, as I have already observed, it would greatly…