A Modest Proposal

A Modest Proposal

What is “A Modest Proposal”?

“A Modest Proposal” is a satirical essay written by Jonathan Swift in 1729 which mocked the British policies towards Ireland and poor people, arising shock and scandal when published.


The proposal referred to in the title basically implies that in order to make poor irish colonies wealthy, they had to sell their children to the high lords of Britain to later get eaten.

The satyrical hyperbole is used to mock the attitude Britain had towards the irish colonies in the 18th century, especially poor people, while also calling out the rich lifestyle of the nobility.


The rethorical language used by Swift is highly ironic, with the use of scientific and culinary semantic fields to rationally justify his own statements, even though the sources were purely invented, and also highlight the absurdity of the proposal itself.

What Swift tried to obtain by writing the essay in this specific form was that to create a dislike towards the narrator, which presented himself as if he was noble, and sympathy towards the irish, who were suffering the worst

The Essay is so well known that “A Modest Proposal” is currently a slang used for absurd ideas.

A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout

Jhonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal

This was A Modest Proposal!  😉

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