Oh, these troubled times we live in: Revisiting Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”

In the short story “A Modest Proposal,” English author Jonathan Swift calls attention to the deplorable condition of the poor and the seeming lack of concern of most to come up with any real, workable solutions in dealing with the issue of poverty. He wants the people of his country as well as his readers to take their sociological heads out of the sand regarding this problem, and he uses very strong sarcasm, irony, hyperbole, satire and some incredible imagery to achieve his intentions. He attacks such “sacred cows” as motherhood, fatherhood, and the then dominant religious community. On a much broader scale, however, I believe this piece can be used as a vehicle by which we can look at ourselves and ask ourselves some very probing questions; questions that have to deal with our own contributions, whether actively or passively, to this problem. The poor, it is said, will always be among us…what will we do about it?


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