Essay on A Modest Proposal: Satire at Its Best

643 Words Mar 4th, 2008 3 Pages
A Modest Proposal: Satire at Its Best
Jonathan Swift's 1729 essay, A Modest Proposal, was a true example of satire at its best. Many readers at the time rejected the essay because they failed to understand the irony. It is presently one of the most well known works of satire and is a classic example of the technique most commonly used today. The entire essay from the title down to the last sentence were meant to be taken ironically, which is a rare form, but very effective when trying getting a point across. This essay will explain why the text was meant to be taken ironically and why Swift used irony instead of straightforward statements.
Starting with the title, "A Modest Proposal For Preventing the Children of Poor People in
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Swift is outraged by the savage, inhuman acts of the Irish people and blames the British oppression. The proposal itself is a symbol of the British oppression. The mere fact that anyone would fatten up human beings like livestock and devour them is preposterous, yet the British oppression devours and consumes the Irish people in a different kind of way.
Swift uses irony instead of straight forward remarks to express his anger toward the British and how their oppression on his people is destroying the economy. Swifts anger has become so great he states that much of the population would have been better off dead, which may be exaggerated but not ironic. Instead of coming straight out and writing a rational proposal he uses satire to mock the British but at the same time get a valuable point across. All satire is ultimately driven by anger at some level. Its purpose is to not only entertain but to drive change. A Modest Proposal is a reminder of these roots.
A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift was obviously meant to be taken ironically but at the same time get a valuable point across. As a passionate supporter of Irish human rights Swift was looking for change and felt the best way to achieve it was through this proposal. Whether he succeeded in that task or not he left us with a valuable piece of literature that will be studied for centuries to come.

Works Cited
Swift, Jonathan. A Modest Proposal For Preventing the Children of Poor People in
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