A modest Proposal

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“A Modest Proposal” p. 622-631

p. 622 – 1. What problem does Swift identify in ll. 1-15?

Poor children are a burden to their parents and to their country.

p. 623 – 2. What is Swift calculating in lines 35-45? Give the exceptions as he adjusts his final number.

Subtract children who are supported by their parents and babies who die in infancy.

p. 623 – 3. Why does Swift use mathematical language to discuss the issue?

He wants to reduce the numbers of human beings, so it sounds like animals/objects. He wants to distance the speaker from and readers from the Irish.

p. 623 – 4. Lines 43-53 – What social problem does Swift blame for the widespread thievery in Ireland?

Lack of jobs and lack of farms to work on; This leads the Irish to have to steal to survive.

p. 624 – 5. Lines 65-76 – What is Swift’s proposal?

The poor Irish children will be treated like cattle; Part of them will stock the herd; the others will be served as food.

p. 626 – 6. lines 90-100 – How does Swift use understatement, irony creating emphasis by saying less than is expected or appropriate?

According to author, uses the Irish children’s skins for leather. This is used to make the nature of the proposal even more horrifying.

p. 627 – 7. Give the irony about Swift’s concern in lines 117-122 regarding what “some scrupulous people” might think.

Thinks it is especially cruel to practice considering using females in such a plot.

p. 628 – 8. Why does Swift supply cost and profit calculations (ll. 159-165)?

Money spent on children will decrease and people will pay for the new “dish”, so it serves as an economic upgrade for Ireland.

p. 629 – 9. Lines 175-184 – How would Swift’s proposal improve family life?

Mothers will know how valuable their babies are and so they will treat their children well; Marriages will be stronger bc/ men will value their wives more.

p. 629 – 10. To what does the speaker compare pregnant women? What comment is he making about husbands?

Breeders” – Meaning that females are looked upon as less than their value. The boorishness of the male in this society.

p. 630 – 11. Lines 198-203 – what attitude toward the Irish refutes in using the opposing point of view?

The number of people in Ireland would be lessened bc/ according to Swift, Irish people do not take care of their children.

p. 631 – 12. Lines 240-248 – What does the speaker say about poor adults wishing they had benefitted from his proposal when they were babies?

The people would have rather been killed than endured the misery of their lives.

p. 631 – 13. What is Swift saying about Ireland’s poor?

Better off dead than living in oppression and deprivation.

p. 631 – 14. Why would Swift make such an extreme suggestion?

Get the attention of the public to try to create social change.


Page 632, 1-6

1. Children be sold for food at 1-year-old

2. They get money for selling their children; Will not have to support children after 1 year.

3. Costs nothing and the Irish can do it themselves.

4. This is not a modest plan:

(1) This should horrify readers and give objections (2) The speaker makes observations that are horrifying, not comfortable

5. Satire: Irish landlords: Destroying the poor tenants with high prices; ENG & IRE Protestants: Most Protestants were really contemptuous of Catholics that they would be glad to see numbers dwindle. The earlier proposals of Irish Protestants living abroad could have helped relief if they had received enough support.

6. Logical: Child-raising issues and expenses; Illogical: Irish parents would be willing to sell their babies to be eaten and there is no moral obligation to this cannibalistic practice.

Classwork 7: Swift uses the metaphors of “consumption.” 5-6 sentence analytical paragraph on how Swift uses language that suggests “devouring”. Explain why he uses such a metaphor to discuss ENG/Irish relationships.

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