A Hardly "Modest" Proposal Jonathan Swift is regarded as one of the most famous satirical authors in history. He uses his wit, intellect and unfortunate past as tools for projecting his words in an attempt to baffle the unknowing. He achieves this by making humorous and farfetched situations that really resemble the ridiculous things people do. In "A Modest Proposal," Swift addresses his feelings of England's outlandish behavior towards the 'less fortunate.' Swift is trying to help the English people realize the double standards they pass on the Irish and on people in general. The sole purpose of "A Modest Proposal" is to let it be known that we do not treat others equally and that humans easily become desensitized and emotionless. In "A Modest Proposal" Jonathan Swift exposes the plight of the Irish peasants and children through the use of a narrator.
He (the narrator) proposes an outrageous but "fair, cheap, and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the commonwealth... ." (Swift 41). The Narrator, like many other people of his nature, is tired of seeing an overwhelming number of children, beggars and homeless people take up space. As a just solution to this problem he proposes that the children be eaten stating "that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled...
." (Swift 42). Upon making this statement the reader is shocked at the audacity that the storyteller posses to even fathom an idea of this caliber. The suggested answer is all but human. It is only natural to assume that he is being ridiculous, but as the reader continues on, the narrator only seems to become more adamant about his idea. It is at this point that Swift's satire has reached its pinnacle.
One cannot help but think of how they would never consider the thought of consuming another human. However, the self indulged human characteristics come out and the reader is aware of how they treat the other people. The reader starts to analyze their own actions towards fellow man letting them become exposed for all the ways they have seemingly overlooked the poor and paid little to no attention of anyone one who is "less fortunate." This can also translated into the way the English treat the Irish, which is what Swift is trying to convey. While this proposal may seem atrocious, the actual act of being eaten was simply a parallel to how the Irish were being treated. The English people "gobbled" them up by over taxation, over indulging and lifting their (the English people's) standards to the point where the Irish had such a lower standard of life that "being eaten" seemed like a much better way to live.
This is all irony that the reader may not notice until they exam their own life. Swift's narrator "modestly" speaks of England relationship with Ireland by stating "But as to myself, having been wearied out for many years with offering in vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of success, I fortunately fell upon this proposal, which as it is wholly new, so it hath something solid and real, of no expense and little trouble, full in our own power, and whereby we can incur no danger in obliging England. For this kind of commodity will not bear exportation, the flesh being of too tender a consistence to admit along continuance in salt, although perhaps I could name a country which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it." (Swift 44). The "nameless" country has been do logical in their process of controlling Ireland that they have lost sight of the fact that they are dealing with human life.
Swift wants it to be known that people are sometimes so logical in their thinking that they become desensitized to life. The narrator closes his argument on the " Preventing the children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public" (Swift 41) by saying " I profess in the sincerity of my heart that I have not the least personal interest in the endeavoring to promote this necessary work having no other motive than the public good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich. I have no children of which I can propose to get a single penny: the youngest being nine years old, and my wife past child-bearing." (Swift 44). Swift's irony is at its best. Swift is finally revealing that this is all a "joke" and that really anyone who supports his proposal is preposterous.
He is showing how logical everything may seem but how he is not willing to carry out his plan because it is too "logical" and devastates human lives. "A Modest Proposal" is hardly modest. It suggests the cruel and unusual idea of eating poor children to decrease the surplus population and as a means of refining the public. Jonathan Swift uses his suggestion as a way to point out the fact that human life is regarded as a commodity and not a privilege.
He explains that in the process of becoming ration and logical thinkers, humans have lost their ability to be emotional and often times pay the price by demeaning human life.