Modest Proposal Essay

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Modest Proposal

When did the surprise ending become clear in Swift's short story "A Modest Proposal"? And how successful was Swift in convincing a reader of the validity of the surprise ending? These points will be covered and critiqued in this paper.

At what point in the story did it become clear Swift would have a different ending?

When did it become clear that Swift couldn't possibly go any further in his grim, morally objectionable analysis of how to solve the problem of abortions, of hunger, of the economic problems in Dublin -- and numerous other problems? The answer to that question is to be found on the next to the last page of the story. That's when he begins to turn away from his own ghastly proposal.

When he writes, "But as to myself, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts…" the reader senses a turning of the tide in his outrageous ideas. He is weary, he has tried so many other ideas, and while this particular proposal, he insists, is "solid and real," and while it will not cost anything to government, it is a nice way of offending -- "disobliging" -- England, which the Irish people were more than happy to do. This is a softer tack than he took earlier. There is no language alluding to the tastiness of meat from a child's body, there is no outrageous suggestion that a roasting a "fat, yearling child" will help Ireland give the shaft to England and feed hungry people as well.

There is Swift's thought presented on that next to the last page that a child's flesh is tender and won't need much salt, but it is followed by another shot at the Mother Country, England: "…perhaps I could name a country which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it."

It has come to the point in the last paragraph on the next to the last page of this story when Swift is ready to mellow out a bit and he clearly changes his tone. "After all," he writes, "I'm not so violently bent on my own opinion as to reject any offer proposed by wise men," which is a 180-degree turn from what he has been saying the whole short story up until this point.
Saying that he isn't "violently bent on my own opinion" is a radical departure from what the reader has been immersed in throughout the story up until this point. The violence that has been alluded to previously in this story to has been the terrifying idea of slaughtering children; clearly that is a very violent and hideously uncouth concept.

But now, as he nears the end of "A Modest Proposal" -- which rings with irony because there is nothing modest about bringing children to a slaughter house like swine or beef cattle -- he is letting the reader know that if another, better idea comes along, he could be coaxed into listening to it and perhaps accepting it. But only will only be coaxed into accepting it if the better idea comes from "wise men"; and only if the….....

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