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A Modest Proposal

A Modest Proposal


by Jonathan Swift

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Rags to Riches

A Modest Proposal is more essay than story, but keep your eyes peeled for some classic plot references. Swift is a tricky one, and he likes to throw us for a loop every now and then. 

Initial Wretchedness at Home

The Irish are hungry and desperate for food. There aren't really any heroes here (unless you count the future dinners—ahem, kids). The author calls on all of Ireland to find something useful for the munchkins to do.

Out Into the World, Initial Success

Ireland's youth are thieving and shirking work, so the author designs a plan to keep them occupied: dishing them up as dinner, of course. The author has a vision of pockets stuffed with money and bellies stuffed with food.

The Central Crisis

What could go wrong? Well, taking out 100,000 children might impact Ireland's population. Christopher Booker calls this the "central crisis," but the author doesn't seem to think it's much of a problem. Fewer Irish children means fewer mouths to feed.

Final Union, Completion, and Fulfillment

Well, the kids won't get much fulfillment if this plan succeeds—but everyone else wins. It's a happily ever after ending for foodies.

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