Pigs, Americans, and Jews in "A Modest Proposal"

Jonathan Bortlinger, English 171 Brown University, Autumn 2003

1. How did the average reader of Swift's proposal respond to his calculations of the number of poor couples unable to care for their children -- with an acknowledgment of Swift's satire OR with a serious attempt at researching the true value of the poverty level?

2. Why did Swift introduce the idea of baies as food originating from the mouth of a "very knowing American?"

3. When Swift mentions the horrible use of babies as gloves and the methods of extracting their flesh with hot knives and relates this to the existing practice of roasting pigs, did readers find this repulsive and thus turn against the use of animal products? (Was Swift at all commenting on the treatment of farm animals?)

4. When Swift states that no one can reasonably oppose his proposal and lists the other suggestions he believes shouldn't be offered (but are actually the sound proposals he supports). Why does Swift say that men "should no longer act like Jews?" What significance does anti-semitism play in the development of non-fiction writing?
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Last modified 7 September 2003