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He continues in this way, ironically building a “logical” argument for his proposal, mentioning “This food would likewise bring great custom to taverns,” (Par 25).He finishes his disturbing list, by once again sounding “modest,” casual and non-controversial, even though his proposal is anything but those, “After all, I not so violently bent upon my own opinion, as to reject any offer, proposed by wise men, which shall be found equally innocent, cheap, easy, and effectual” (Par 32).Swift is using this fact to ironically criticize the British reader.
In “A Modest Proposal,” Swift does exactly that through clever social commentary on the issue of poverty among the poor in Ireland through the various forms of satire.
Swift differentiates the social classes in his writing through imagery, detailing the differences between the rich and the poor.
Swift is ironic in stating he has spent “many years” thinking through solutions proposed by others because he likely has not, but he does so to mock the other solutions.
In a twist of verbal irony, Swift hints at how the “problem” of overpopulation of Irish babies is actually part of the “solution” itself when he talks of the babies, “…they shall, on the contrary, contribute to the feeding, and party to the cloathing of many thousands” (Par 4).
He writes, “Infant’s flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after…
there are more children born in Roman Catholick countries about nine months after Lent…He writes, “…having turned my thoughts for many years, upon this important subject, and maturely weighed the several schemes of our projectors, I have always found them grossly mistaken in their computation” (Par 4).Swift is clever in mixing and using irony along with biting criticism.Swift is also very keen on economics and provides various calculations as to the number of Irish babies born as well as the cost to society associated (Par 6).He also adds false credibility, another example of verbal irony, by mentioning various people who have supported his buildup of argument such as “merchants” and a “very knowing American” (Par 7 and 8).the number of Popish infants, is at least three to one in this kingdom, and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of Papists among us” (Par 13).The Protestants of Britain stood in contrast of faith to the Catholics of Ireland in both political rule and population.Swift’s proposal in his essay is a technique used to highlight a real issue and bring awareness to it by ridiculing the public (reader) through satire.The definition of satire is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, and ridicule to expose and criticize people’s vices.” After Swift briefly describes the terrible economic and social situation in the Ireland, he then turns to his consideration and development of his “modest” proposal.Although the reader still takes him seriously at this point in the essay, it becomes clear he is using verbal irony as soon as he actually gives his proposal.