A Modest Proposal Study Guide

A Modest Proposal Study Guide

Original title:
A Modest Proposal

In 1729 Jonathan Swift published his work that carried an immensely long title but has become known under “A Modest Proposal” name. The book is a major social text exploring the living conditions in Ireland and the attitude towards the Irish from other nationalities.

Today it’s hard to imagine a situation in which a parent would sell his kid, but this concept is exactly what prompted the author to write this book. It’s a satirical work that showed how little tolerance society had for the poor people.

Think about it for a moment: the world without kids would be so much better. Children are crazy. They scream and they annoy people. They talk to themselves, they have friends and bring them over to the house. They suck the thumb and believe in the wardrobe monsters.

But most importantly, kids cost money. It’s expensive to dress them, feed them and take them to school. So why not sell them to rich people? The author explores in great depth the ways to prepare a child for a sale and even best ways to cook him.

It would solve so many problems: the number of poor people would go down, the overpopulation would no longer be a problem, the taxes would be lowered, the mothers would work and earn more, not even talking about the potential growth of GDP!

This idea isn’t as terrible as it might seem at a first glance. Maybe for a child it’s better to be eaten than to live in this cruel world. To live in the world, where the child would be confronted with poverty, pain, suffering, humiliation, and loss.

The satire and criticism in the book are direct and blunt. The reader finds himself thirsty for more irony because it’s absurd and genius at the same time. But this is the last of Swift’s books about Ireland. So enjoy it to the fullest!

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