A modest proposal Surprise Ending

A Modest Proposal: Satire and Shock Value

A pamphlet-sized analytical essay titled "A Modest Proposal" was released in 1729 by Jonathan Swift. Swift analyzes the challenges the United Kingdom faces as a result of the large population of underfed and underemployed people; he specifically mentions the Irish people, particularly children. The essay has a somber but straightforward tone, and the author doesn't offer a good answer to the current economic and social crisis. (Swift, 1729).

A Twisted Proposal for Ireland's Poor

The first time one could suspect what might be hanging around is when Swift (1729) mentions about plenty of the poor infants, as opposed to saying that children were burden to the societies and their families; he does it to, 'contribute to the feeding and partly to the clothing of the many thousands.' One might browse past this context, but then again, the actual surprise in the essay is not masked in its ambiguity (Swift, 1729).

A Surprising Ending

In this manner, Swift's surprise ending is portrayed with directness in the ninth paragraph, when he says 'a healthy child well used, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasie or a ragoust.' Thus, the blunt state of the proposal – to eat the babies of the poor – with Swift's suggesting methods of preparation to increase the impacts of the offensive line. Even though it is well known that Swift is kidding, a surprising component of the essay is in the prolonged serious state of the proposal as the author spends most of his entire time supporting his claims by even providing statistical analysis of the matter. The only statement that sounds beneficial of the plan is the lessening of number of papists among themselves (Swift, 1729).

Chilling Recommendations

As the proposal unfolds, each portion of the essay reveals a new surprising aspect of the plan that in one way or the other delivers a frank that is both amuse and horrible. For example, a specific chilling recommendation is that the excess skin of slaughtered newborns could 'make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen' (Swift, 1729).

Persuasiveness Despite Unbelievability

Regardless of the fact that Swift's proposal was not credible and convincing, one could not easily tell or believe that the essay was not trustworthy and persuasive since it had supporting statements (Swift, 1729). Nevertheless, the tone and the style of Swift's proposal convinces the reader. One would sense some credibility in his ideas when he says that 'a very knowing American,'' a very worthy person...whose virtues I highly esteem,' and 'the famous Salmanaazor, a native of the island Formosa' supporting the storyteller's proposal (Swift, 1729). The more convincing part was the statistical proofs that provided support for his plan. However, the mathematical proofs were not meant to influence the reader but to highlight the preposterousness of commodifying humankind in a pound-for-pound manner (Swift, 1729).


Swift, Jonathan. (1729). A Modest Proposal. Retrieved from https://www.victorianweb.org/previctorian/swift/modest.html.

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