A Modest Proposal Essay

There are many things that people will do to survive in the world. Desperation may cause people to do hurtful things to their family and friends. One of the most gruesome things that a parent can do is to sell their child for money. In the narrative, “A Modest Proposal,” by Jonathan Swift, he proposes something more heinous than selling one’s children for profit; his “modest” proposal is that people should sell their children as food. Although the sex trade industry makes people cringe, and child labor causes people to boycott products, Swift’s proposal is the purest form of evil.

The part of the narrative in which readers realize Swift’s proposal is about cannibalism is in the ninth paragraph of “A Modest Proposal”: “I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection. I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that 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 fricasie, or a ragoust. The fact that people would eat the children is barbaric in nature. Swift’s proposal that people should eat a child in a stew is disgusting and unreal. The statement is so monstrous, in fact, that it may lead readers to consider that no intellectual man who is so remarkable in writing and rhetoric could propose that people eat their (or others’) young. Jonathan Swift’s unusual statements regarding the creation of an income by families in selling their children for food may lead many people who read his writing to think that he was being facetious.

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According to Swift in the tenth paragraph of “A Modest Proposal,” a child being the perfect meal is his attempt at showing how people are desperate at times to lose their morals and ethics: “A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends, and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt, will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter. ” Obviously, cannibalism is not the perfect meal; morally, it is wrong to eat humans in most cultures around the world.

In fact, human skin is probably not as tasty as lamb, beef, or chicken for most people across the globe; however, Swift proposes that people eat children as a means of survival. His sarcasm in suggesting that human skin is the best meal possibly for modern day citizens is preposterous. He recommends selling children as food as a way for the English people could prevent over-population and the mistreatment of English citizens in Ireland; also, his advice could cause an internal change in the Irish government.

Readers actually think that Swift’s modest proposal could very well save the lives of many children as he indicates in the first part of the narrative that people should support the parents who beg for finances and food on the street by taking the children of those parents “in”: But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars: it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age, who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them, as those who demand our charity in the streets.

His intentions are far from being of sound mind because he explains later that he intended benefactors to eat those children! Many people would dismiss his claims at poking fun at people who would forsake everything at surviving, even the death of their own legacy in the world. People have children to leave a part of themselves behind in the world after their demise. By selling their own children, people would be giving up one of the greatest parts of having a child. Due to this rationality, it can be assumed that Jonathan Swift is being flippant when he addresses selling children for food.