The Right to Cannibalism

Ragine Williams
Ms. Wilson
ENG 105 – 22
15 October 2013
The Right to Cannibalism
In his essay, “A Modest Proposal,” Jonathan Swift reacts to the social problem faced by the Irish in 1720’s. Swift proposes that the babies of all the poor and desolate will contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing, of many thousands to improve Ireland’s economy and standard of living.   He says this because many women kept having children but were unable to provide for them. For example, Swift says, it will prevent these horrid practices of woman murdering their bastard children alas.   He also states that his proposal would make the babies “beneficial to the public. For these reasons, he blames the politicians for the poor conditions in Ireland causing mothers to watch their children grow up beggars or thieves. In “A Modest Proposal,” Swift effectively uses sarcasm to reveal his annoyance of politicians, papists, and citizens of poverty-stricken Ireland in the late seventeenth century. Therefore, parents in dire straits should sell their children as food to improve their living conditions, to reduce their financial burdens, and to reduce their emotional attachment to their children.
Unlike parents in dire straits who choose to abort their children, parents who sell their children as food improve their living conditions. The mothers in dire strait will now be able to help pay their landlords rent, and have money to spare. Swift also states that there will be a “great inducement” towards married couples. Consuming a restored marriage will have the men grow fond and take better care of their wives during the breeding process due to the fear of a miscarriage. If the child is aborted the mother will be in deeper poverty. The maintenance of the infant will be hard on the mother mentally. She will not be able to receive any work to support her livelihood. The streets will be crowded with mothers followed by three or four children, all in rags, begging for food and money....