Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal Essay Example

3A Modest Proposal

A Modest Proposal

Jonathan swift was an Englishman who happened to be in Ireland when the height of injustice against the Irish people was unimaginable. England used Ireland as its first experiment in exploiting the population both economically and socially. In an attempt to come up with the solution to the plight of the Irish people, Swift came up with a satirical proposal which he believed would provide a means of ending their suffering. He begins his proposal by describing vividly the poverty of Ireland people. He does this sympathetically and goes ahead to set facts and details of how there is a big number of children who cannot be fed. This proposal was meant to show how people in Ireland went to an extent of even devising illogical schemes to solve the economic and social problems they were having.

In this proposal, Swift’s tone is a serious one. He uses this tone so as to highlight the absurdity of what he’s proposing. He does this very well by rhetorically persuading the reader to pity the Irish while at the same time detesting him for his absurd proposal. To do this he describes vividly the grinding poverty facing the Irish but only feeling emotion is only felt to his fellow Englishmen. In this proposal Swift creates a persona of a humanistic and logical individual. This personal however, contradict and mimic his own character at the same time. At the beginning of the proposal, Swift establishes himself as a loyal, concerned, and sincere citizen. This he does by carefully describing the plight faced by the Irish. However, the solution to the problem that he proposes is not only illogical but absurd. By assuming the persona of a logical individual throughout his proposal, he succeeds in heightening the impact of his modest proposal (Zimmerman, 2001).

This proposal would cut through the English apathy and indifference towards the Irish in that it shows how cruel they are to the Irish. He mentions the social and economic exploitation subjected to the Irish by the Englishmen. This manifesto is very effective because it shows the height of human injustice in Ireland that has made people to use any means both logical and illogical schemes to overcome their problems.

Some of ruthless economic exploitation can still be observed in the modern world. A good example of this can be observed in some parts of Africa where people are dying of hunger and starvation while their leaders are driving expensive cars and living in big mansions.


Zimmerman, M. (2001). A Modest Proposal. Retrieved September 3, 2011, from