A Modest Proposal Book summary by Jonathan Swift (download pdf)


“A Modest Proposal” is a biting and satirical essay in which the author, Jonathan Swift, adopts a pseudonymous persona to offer a “modest” and shocking solution to the economic and social issues plaguing Ireland in the 18th century. 

TitleA Modest Proposal
AuthorJonathan Swift
PublisherWatchmaker Publishing (June 28, 2010)
File Formatpdf
Number of pages28 pages
Customer Reviews4.3 out of 5 stars 196 Reviews
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A Modest Proposal Book summary by Jonathan Swift 

Swift begins by describing the dire state of poverty in Ireland, where he laments the widespread suffering and overpopulation. 

He criticizes the British exploitation of Ireland’s resources and proposes a “modest” plan to solve the problem.

Swift’s proposal is that impoverished Irish families should sell their infants as a source of income. 

He suggests that this solution would alleviate poverty, reduce the burden on parents, and provide a source of income to the impoverished. 

He even calculates the economic benefits in great detail, including how much money could be earned from selling a child and how it could contribute to the country’s economy.

Throughout the essay, Swift employs satire and irony to highlight the absurdity of his proposal. 

He mocks the heartless attitude of British landlords and policymakers toward the Irish population, who were suffering from famine and economic oppression.

As the essay progresses, Swift continues to use irony and satire to expose the dehumanizing policies and attitudes of the British ruling class toward the Irish people.

 He implies that his proposal is just as rational and humane as the oppressive policies imposed by the British.

In the final paragraphs, Swift hints at his true intentions, revealing that his proposal is meant to shock and provoke thought. 

He underscores that his actual aim is not to promote child-selling but to draw attention to the injustices faced by the Irish people and the indifference of the British government.

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A Modest Proposal Book summary by Jonathan Swift: download pdf


“A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift is a masterful work of satire that uses dark humor and irony to critique the British exploitation of Ireland and the callousness of those in power. 

Swift’s essay is a classic example of how satire can be employed to shed light on societal issues and provoke thought and discussion.


What was the historical context of “A Modest Proposal”?

 In the 18th century, Ireland was under British rule, and the Irish people were facing severe poverty, famine, and overpopulation.

Was Swift’s proposal meant to be taken seriously?

No, Swift’s proposal to sell infants was not meant to be taken seriously.

What impact did “A Modest Proposal” have at the time of its publication?

The essay created a significant stir when it was first published, as it shocked and outraged readers.

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