Chapter 1It doesnt take long to summarize the short pamphlet that is Swifts Modest Proposal. To remedy the problem of the poverty-stricken, oppressed and uneducated population of Catholics in Ireland, Swifts projector calmly and rationally proposes that thousands of the children should be killed and eaten. This will help both the overpopulated poor, who cant afford to care for their children anyway, and the rich, who will get a good meal out of the whole process.
Even in his introduction he explains the reason for his proposal: for Preventing the Children of poor People in Ireland, from being a Burden to their Parents or Country; and for making them beneficial to the Publick.What follows is a very artful attempt to justify such a seemingly outrageous scheme. Yet throughout the discourse, the projector never loses his cool, but proceeds to logically lay out the ground work for such a proposal.The following reasons he uses to advance his plan are summarized below. First, eating the poor children will solve the problem of population among the papists, or the Catholics. Second, it will make the remaining papists richer, since they will have such valuable commodities to sell in exchange for rent credit, etc. Third, it will help the economy since less money will have to be spent on the upbringing of so many poor children.
This system, lastly, will produce a better cultural environment for Ireland as a whole, encouraging marriage and the charms of the tavern.Finally, the projector defends his intentions in offering such a proposal, explaining that he has no personal advantages which will be derived from his plan, since his children are all too old to kill and his wife is too old to have more children.Character ProfilesTheProjector- The narrator, or projector, is the only major character in the work, since he is the one who is offering his modest proposal. He appears to be a self-inventor kind of person, indeed a down-to-earth thinker.
His tone is calm and rational, though his words are quite unsettling, conveying a sense of melancholy to the reader.Metaphor AnalysisTo pick out a single metaphor from Swifts Modest Proposalwould be to undercut his message as a whole. The whole pamphlet, indeed, in its entirety, is one giant, metaphorical irony. The horror of the narrators irony serves as a constant metaphor for the horror being experienced by the people of Ireland. His awful proposal is a result, an echo of sorts, of the terrible suffering of the speakers own fellow citizens. Thus, Swift carefully uses his entire satire as a symbol for the atrocities already known in his country. Theme AnalysisSwifts dehumanizing satire strives to shed light on the horrible situation of English/Irish tensions in Ireland. On a basic level Swift indicts the English Protestants for their cruel and inhumane treatment of the papists, or poor Catholics, through both political and economic oppression.
This is seen most clearly when his projector muses that England would be more than willing to eat the Irish even without such a proposal, saying, I could name a country which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it.Yet perhaps even more criticism is heaped on the Irish for not recognizing the horror of their own situation, and not taking constructive steps to remedy the problem. The very fact that such an immodest proposal can be given and received with such seriousness proves that all peoples involved have lost even the thinnest shred of human decency and respect. On a larger lever, Swift successfully indicts the brutality of man as a whole. A Modest Proposal goes well beyond the limits of Europe, shedding a sickening light on allhumanity and the way in which we treat each other.Top Ten Quotes1) In his introduction, Swifts projector explains the reason for his proposal: for Preventing the Children of poor People in Ireland, from being a Burden to their Parents or Country; and for making them beneficial to the Publick.
2) It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, ad importuning every passenger for an alms.3) But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars; it is of a much greater extent.4) I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders5) 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, a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food.6) Infants flesh will be in season throughout the year.
7) I compute that Dublin would take off annually about twenty thousand carcasses.8) I can think of no one objection that will possibly be raised against this proposal.9) I could name a country which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it.10) I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country.