Jonathan Swift’s essay “A Modest Proposal” is an example of satire, which is a form of literature that uses humor to point out the flaws in society. In his essay, Swift makes it clear that he believes there is a problem in Ireland: too many children are born into poverty. He states that “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 Cabbin-doors crowded with Beggars of the female Sex, followed by three, four or six Children, all in Rags…” (Swift 6). He goes on to say that these people are starving due to a lack of food. His solution to this problem is ironic, as it is not a real solution at all, but rather a way to make the reader think about the situation and how people react to it. It also shows how people at the time were callous in their attitudes towards poverty and hunger, treating babies as commodities instead of human beings who deserved compassion and support. Swift’s essay is an effective satire because it uses humor to make a serious point about the poor state of the Irish economy at the time, as well as sarcasm to make its point, making it more effective than if he had simply stated his opinion.
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