“A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public”, is a satirical essay written and published anonymously by Jonathan Swift in 1729. Swift suggests that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies. This satirical hyperbole mocks heartless attitudes towards the poor, as well as Irish policy in general.
This is a fantastic piece of literature to examine for rhetorical analysis, as many of you may have a satirical piece on the AP Exam. It is important to be able to identify when an author is using satire – you miss the point entirely if you think the author is being serious!

We will be reading and analyzing this text using the SOAPSTone Plus method – but we will also be conducting an in-depth Socratic seminar of the work. Please be sure to prepare a series of evaluative, literal and interpretive questions to pose to the class over Swift’s work.


Click here to read the text of Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal’.

Click here to listen to the audio of Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal’.