Historical Context in A Modest Proposal
By the time “A Modest Proposal” was published in 1729, Ireland had been under English rule for over 500 years. In the early 1600s, the English crown tasked a small Protestant aristocracy with governing a largely Catholic population. Extant poverty was exacerbated by trade restrictions imposed by England. Ireland was a desperately poor and dangerously overpopulated country, kept poor and weak by English rule. Swift was a member of the Anglo-Irish ruling class and therefore had allegiances to both England and Ireland. In the 1720s, Swift became politically involved in Irish causes, specifically England’s exploitation of Ireland and religious suppression. “A Modest Proposal” was written in response to worsening economic conditions in Ireland and Swift’s perception of the passivity of the Irish people. Swift made multiple appeals and proposals to Irish Parliament to tax landlords, fund Irish industry, and adopt modern agricultural techniques, but he was consistently ignored. His “Modest Proposal” was a frustrated parody of these serious proposals to chastise the ineffectual Irish government, apathetic Irish people, and exploitative English rule.
Historical Context Examples in A Modest Proposal:
A Modest Proposal by Dr. Jonathan Swift🔒
"Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients..." See in text (A Modest Proposal by Dr. Jonathan Swift)
"they have already devoured..." See in text (A Modest Proposal by Dr. Jonathan Swift)
"having of late destroyed their deer..." See in text (A Modest Proposal by Dr. Jonathan Swift)