From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
A Modest Proposal

A Modest Proposal

  

by Jonathan Swift

A Modest Proposal Theme of 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 with describing the Irish people than the landscape. It gets a little claustrophobic when he starts spouting numbers: 1.5 million people in Ireland, 200,000 women who can have children, 120,000 children.

When Swift does talk about the land, he wants us to know that Ireland is a shell of its former self. British restrictions on agriculture prevent the land from being developed, while landlords routinely neglect responsibilities. In other words, Ireland under English rule is not the greatest place to live.

Questions About Visions of Ireland

  1. Is the narrator an Irish citizen? How do you know?
  2. Why doesn't A Modest Proposal mention much about the land?
  3. If you were a first-time visitor to Ireland, what would you think about the first paragraph? Why?
  4. Why does Swift provide so many statistics when describing Ireland? Would the effect be different if he discussed the physical scenery?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Swift suggests that Ireland's overpopulation problem has redefined the physical landscape of the country.

Swift describes the terrible conditions in Ireland in order to set the stage for a dystopian satire.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement