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Satire and the Deployment of Irony in A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

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Satire and the Deployment of Irony in A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift


Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients: of taxing our absentees at 5s. a pound: of using neither clothes, nor household furniture, except what is of our own growth and manufacture: of utterly rejecting the materials and instruments that promote foreign luxury: of curing the expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming in our women: of introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence and temperance: of learning to love our country, wherein we differ even from Laplanders, and the inhabitants of Topinamboo: of quitting our animosities and factions, nor acting any longer like the Jews, who were murdering one another at the very moment their city was taken: of being a little cautious not to sell our country and consciences for nothing: of teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy towards their tenants. Lastly, of putting a spirit of honesty, industry, and skill into our shop-keepers, who, if a resolution could now be taken to buy only our native goods, would immediately unite to cheat and exact upon us in the price, the measure, and the goodness, nor could ever yet be brought to make one fair proposal of just dealing, though often and earnestly invited to it.

Therefore I repeat, let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, till he has at least some glimpse of hope that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice. (Swift 57-58)

"A Modest Proposal" has been hailed by literary critics as one of Jonathan Swift's greatest satirical works. The essay takes the form of a proposal that sets out to offer a solution to the problems of overpopulation and poverty in 18th century Ireland, a...


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...ff. Hypertext Rhetoric Lesson for Swift's "A Modest Proposal". Updated date unknown. <http://www.du.edu/~jegoldst/html/a_modest_proposal.htm>. Cited 27 March 2004.

Hutcheon, Linda. Irony's Edge: The Theory and Politics of Irony. London: Routledge, 1994.

Montgomery, Martin et. al. "Irony." Ways of Reading. Advanced Reading Skills for Students of English Literature. London: Routledge, 2000. 161-171.

Rose, Margaret A. Parody: Ancient, Modern, and Post-Modern. Cambridge: CUP, 1993.

Swift, Jonathan. "A Modest 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 public." "A Modest Proposal" and Other Satirical Works. New York: Dover.

Wilson, Deirde & Dan Sperber. "On Verbal Irony." The Stylistics Reader. Ed. Jean Jacques Weber. London: Arnold, 1996. 260-279.


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