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Irony in Swift's A Modest Proposal Essay

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Although I realize your concern, you have missed the point of this well thought out essay completely. Despite what you may think about A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift, this essay is a satire master piece filled with irony. Swift’s essay was not intended to convince people to eat babies, but to call attention to the abuses Catholic’s face from their well-to-do Protestants. He only uses eating babies in his essay to explain to the reader the impossible burdens the Protestants are imposing on the Irish Catholics and by making their life hard, they are making a life of a new born impossible.
He makes his first point on page 411 when he tells the reader that eating babies is no problem for landlords because they have “already devoured most of the parents” (411). Swift is not saying that the landlords have literally devoured the parents, the Irish Catholics, and is again not saying that they should eat babies. Instead, he carefully wrote that sentence to explain the hardships put on “the parents”. He is making the point that the Protestants expect too much money from the Catholics and are therefore devouring them. The Church, who is against unjust killing, is unjustly killing the lives of the Irish people and their babies. This sentence is not designed to offend anyone, but to put the issue of high taxes, along with other impossible expenses creating hardship, out in the open. Swifts purpose is completely morale and carefully planned, if you are going to make the babies lives borderline impossible to live, you might as well eat them.
On the same page Swift mentions that eating babies will “lessen the number of papists among us” (411). By saying the Protestants are ready to eat and lower the count of Catholics, Swift is...


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...that eating babies is the only solution, that this place would be better if they did eat babies, but by comparing eating babies to more reasonable ideas, he is encouraging change. This irony is a strong method of persuasion. It pushes people (mainly Catholics) to accept and peruse moderate methods of change rather than crazy, extreme ones.
It is easy to see that you may have been confused on the purpose to Swift’s essay, but I assure you this essay has no intentions turning the world into senseless carnivores. This essay is to teach kids the different rhetorical strategies, such as irony, to make a writing piece, a master piece. In the majority of Swift’s reasoning for eating babies, he is trying to convince the Protestants how inconsiderate their actions are, not eating babies is actually good. This is just another technique in the art of persuasive writing.


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