A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

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The level of poverty and the use of satire in "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift

The level of poverty is a significant theme that is analyzed by the author of "A Modest Proposal", Johnathan Swift. In his analysis, he adopts the use of satire to feature some of the aspects of poverty in Ireland. In so doing, he uses satire to criticize the misguided approach of parenting that was used by the parents of the children in Ireland which depicts how the impoverished raise their children in society. Satire can be defined as the use of humor, irony or ridicule to criticize an aspect of the society's stupidity.


The children in the city of Ireland were used by their parents as a means of income generation. The author portrays how the parents of these children would send their children in the streets to beg so that the family could afford their daily bread. The children are used because of the innocent nature of these creatures. The course of income generation is, however, a good idea in the society because it provided the required basic needs for the family. However, the parents of these children did not recognize that they were exposing their children to a street life. The effects of being exposed to the street life impacted the growth and development of these children making some of them become thieves. The author ridicules the parent's mission in sending their children to beg for income without considering the consequences of their actions in the future lives of their children. "These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants." (Swift 5). The act of begging for income is a type of satire that is used by the author to portray how the impoverished parents in Ireland raised their children.

The parents of the children in Ireland also sent their children to fight for the president in Spain. The primary reason for the parents sending away their children to war was to make them useful members of the commonwealth. Sending children to war is a satire that is used to ridicule the actions of the parents. Sending children to war is not a way through which children are made useful in society. Fighting in battles is the role of the military of a country and not the children. Children should be protected from the war zones and given the chance to access education that would enable them to become useful members of the society in the future. According to Swift (5), "The children would leave their native country to fight for the Pretender in Spain and end up selling themselves in Barbados." Sending the Ireland children to fight for their president in Spain is satirized because it exposed the children to negative activities in order to survive.


In conclusion, the poor state of lifestyle in the Ireland country adversely impacted on the growth and development of the children during this era. The children were affected by the lifestyle that their parents exposed them including being sent to beg for the family's daily bread and being sent to fight for the country in order to become useful members of the Commonwealth community.

Works Cited

Swift, Jonathan. A modest proposal and other satirical works. Courier Corporation, 1996.

August 21, 2023


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Literature Review

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