A satire uses irony or sarcasm to make a point. Many authors use satire to bring society’s attention to political, social, or economic problems in a somewhat humorous way. Some authors even use satire in an attempt to correct the religious practices of the society. Satire is an effective way to highlight problems because it is non-threatening but it grabs the attention of the reader. Jonathan Swift wrote his satirical essay “A Modest Proposal” to bring attention to the political, economic, and social problems of Ireland in 1729. For many years, England, and later the United Kingdom, controlled Ireland. This imperialism started when the Irish king lost part of his kingdom in 1169 and asked for help from the Normans, who were
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Those whom he did not murder he forced off their land and onto rocky soil making it hard for them to farm (Arthurton). The English throne went back and forth from Catholic to Protestant, and each new king tried to convert the people. When the king was Protestant the Catholics were persecuted by stripping away of their voting and land rights; when the king was Catholic the opposite was true. Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” was written during the reign of James II, who came to the throne and wanted to make the country Catholic again. The loyalty of the Irish Catholics was with James, and those who opposed him also strongly opposed the Irish Catholics.
As John Richardson says in “Swift, A Modest Proposal and Slavery,” the irony used by Swift was successful in getting the attention of the rich Protestants because of “the proposer’s commitment to the argument and his conviction of the reader’s readiness to agree with it.”(405). Swift comes across as seriously considering his proposal before he presents it to the public because of the nature of his style. He has many problems in society fixed through this proposal “for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland from being a burden to their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the public” (1114). Swift uses phrases in his work to present irony in a way that “… is not a sanitising, distancing device, but one that enfolds author and