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A Modest Proposal

A Modest Proposal


by Jonathan Swift

A Modest Proposal Society and Class Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Paragraph)

Quote #1

It is a melancholy object to walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and all importuning every passenger for an alms. (1)

Who are "they" in this scenario? The narrator is aligning himself with one of the classes, but which one?

Quote #2

These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg for sustenance for their helpless infants, who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbados. (1)

It's clear that the moms are all about helping their kids survive. The narrator will later insinuate that caring about children is a privilege only awarded to the upper classes.

Quote #3

But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars; it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them as those who demand our charity in the streets. (3)

There's a fuzzy line separating the children of beggars and the children of poor Irish citizens. In other words, it was pretty common to be poor in Ireland.

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