In 1729 Jonathon Swift proposed a very unusual idea to save a starving kingdom. Through his essay "A Modest Proposal" his idea becomes known to the public. In this essay Swift brings to mind how to save the kingdom. There was an over population of children and their poor parents, with no way to get food except for begging. Even then there was not enough. Swift's idea was to make the extra children into meals for family dinners.
Also to have certain couples as "breeders" and only save a fraction of the children born to replace the "breeders" when they are too old. Swift was born on November 30, 1667 and was very troubled because he had never met his father. For this reason he felt that his birth as "being dropped rather than born in Irish soil" (Biography). He was once one of the starving children begging for food with his mother.
He has seen and dealt with the problem first hand and because of this truth it could be his reasoning for writing his essay. Swift describes the background of the lives of both the kids and the mothers, explaining how the kids are just hanging over their moms with rags on for clothes begging for food and shelter (Swift 1). This is a strong case that the society is full of starvation and death because of mistreatment and over population. Swift does a good job of creating an image in the minds of his readers and a sad feeling for everyone that is starving and begging. By the statement every day dying and rotting by cold and famine, and filth and vermin, helps create that scene for the readers's ensues. Swift makes the readers feel as though they are part of what was happening in the kingdom.
Swift states that the advantages of the proposal are made obvious. He uses these steps stating the benefits of his proposal in detail. First, it would greatly cut the number of papists. Second, the poorer tenants will have something valuable and pay for their landlords rent.
Third, there would be an increase in money and circulating among the kingdom also cutting the starvation back. Fourth, the breeders will not only be paid for their children but also be rid of the children's maintenance. Fifth, this food would bring a custom to the kingdom. Last, this would be a great inducement to marriage, which all nations have encouraged by rewords or by force. With all of these truths Swift strengthens his feeling towards his objective creating a sense of "maybe he's right" (Swift 4). Swift also goes into detail of describing his logic in using the infants as a source of food.
There will always be "Infant's flesh throughout the year, but more plentiful in March and a little before and after" (Swift 2). Children are over abundant in the Irish kingdom; therefore he proves that this would end starvation by creating an abundance of food. Swift also uses good language and writing skills that appeals to the public, in his essay, because they were used during that time. It helps his purpose for writing it because it is easier to understand to those of that era. That is the everyday language for them so it was easier for them to read, making them think about all of his points to why children should be used as food instead of rotting away. Swift says that "I am not so violently bent upon my own opinions as to reject any offer proposed by wise men, but before something of that kind shall be advanced in contradiction to my scheme, had to look at what he is saying" (Swift 5).
This statement is saying that he will look to what others think but he is already going to read it thinking his opinion to be superior. This has a negative affect on his essay because he is refusing to view others as he expects them to view his statements. This may sway others to come out with the same affect as he is looking at their opinions. This story today would be absolutely torn apart, and Swift would be shunned and have constant hate mail. With all of the religious people in today's society and their thinking that every life is precious, this idea of Swift's would not go over so well. This is a great example of the differences in the countries and time periods deal with problems.
Swift's ideas are very aggressive and very strongly supported, but also leave room for doubt. The upper class gets the work and food as the lower class gets the money and shelter. With this essay Swift proposes a disgusting idea that works for his time period and his starving Irish kingdom. Works Cited "The Life of Jonathon Swift," Biography of Jonathon Swift.
7 April 2003 Swift, Jonathon. "A Modest Proposal." 1729.