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A Modest Proposal

A Modest Proposal

by Jonathan Swift

A Modest Proposal Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Suffering

Swift knows that there's something rotten in the state of Ireland, and it's not the food. Nope. In A Modest Proposal, Swift is calling out the fat-cat landlords who stuff themselves silly as their...

Inertia

A Modest Proposal: brought to you by lazy folks. Swift's sole purpose in writing this satire is to get people talking, moving, and doing just about anything but sitting around with the crossword pu...

Society and Class

Let's see: the poor citizens of Ireland are fed to the wealthy elite. Yep, class divisions play a major role in A Modest Proposal. More specifically, there's a debate going on over who should take...

Morality and Ethics

A Modest Proposal is all about an ethically dubious idea turned into a plausible scheme. The funny thing is, the narrator doesn't like to mention morals or make judgments. He just makes shocking su...

Visions of Ireland

Ireland in A Modest Proposal is a pretty dismal place to live. We first see Ireland through the eyes of the rich, encountering peasants in every nook and cranny of Dublin. Swift is more concerned w...

Foreignness and "The Other"

The concept of "The Other" is crucial to understanding A Modest Proposal. We're not just talking about a united Ireland. A whole class of people is treated as foreign and unwelcome—unless they're...

Politics

Swift was the man when it came to political satire. You never quite knew when to take the guy seriously, since he also wrote serious political pamphlets on religious discrimination and England's ru...

Power

A Modest Proposal loves to point out abuses of power. Swift calls out wealthy landlords who overcharge their tenants and politicians looking to make a quick buck. He doesn't rant against them, but...

Greed

Swift shows how greed corrupts the upper echelons of society in A Modest Proposal. While the wealthy hoard land like Monopoly money, the poor have no choice but to beg for tidbits in the street. Wo...

Religion

As the Dean of Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Swift often worked religion into his political writings. He defended established religion his whole life, despite detesting every other form of authority....
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