Read. Write. Go.

A Modest Proposal Reaction Paper

Natasha Cribbs

Dr. Sunni Thibodeau

World Literature Since 1650

2 September 2013

A Modest Proposal Reaction Paper

            A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift is a story that many would not consider very modest. If someone were to read it without knowing much about the purpose of the story, they might get a little grossed out. Swift wrote the story with a certain agenda in mind. He wanted to create a piece about the famine, over population, and what could be done about it. It is not a story to be taken very literal, however. Swift wrote it as a ironic piece of how things were being handled at that time and he used an odd method of going about that.

In Swifts story, A Modest Proposal, the proposal is to eat the children. During the time that he wrote it, there was a lot of hardships in Ireland. Famine and over population were near the top of the hardships list. There was not a whole lot being done about it, though. So to knock out two issues that the communities faced, the story offers that they fatten up the undernourished children and eat them. There is also statistical data to advance that the proposal could help. It is a very intense way of expressing a message, but it makes an impact on those who read it.

A big reason that it is so intense is because Swift is very one sided. He emphasizes hugely on the proposal. It is a statement against what is going on, or showing an ironic viewpoint of the issues. The people in the story are viewed simply as food or farm animals to be killed to help smooth over the proposal and idea of eating them.

Overall, A Modest Proposal is an interesting piece. It is not something that you read every day and also has a bigger meaning. It kept my interest for the most part. Like for most readers, the first few looks into the story is kind of shocking. Knowing what the purpose of the story is helps as well as knowing that it is not meant to be taken in a literal fashion. Having that knowledge makes the piece come together and less bothersome.

After reading the story, it puts a new a light on the problems of that time for the poor, Ireland, and Catholics. Everyone hears about the famine and over population at some point in their lives, but do not always get such an inside look at the problems. The proposal is a little on the hardcore side, but gets the point across. I would have to say that I suppose I admire that about Swift and his story. He took a more brutal approach to the problems at hand. Maybe an ironic yet harsh piece is what some issues of this day and age needs to wake it up.

Jonathan Swift has an odd, yet direct way to express his opinions. A Modest Proposal is a story that is different than many others. It can be a little hard to grasp at first as well as shocking due to its harsh nature, but given the reasoning behind it, Swifts story makes its point. I do not think I would really write a story like his, but it is an interesting read.


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