A Modest Proposal Setting & Symbolism

This Study Guide consists of approximately 15 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of A Modest Proposal.
This section contains 373 words
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The Streets

The author states female beggars with up to six children crowd the Dublin streets.


The author proposes society kills children for meat. He says a friend of his has stated the meat from children, boiled, stewed or fried, is wholesome and nourishing. One child could feed a party of adults.

The Economy

The author states the sale of human meat will help the floundering economy. Rearing a beggar child for meat will cost only two shillings a year and the farmer could sell the child at for at least ten shillings. The child's mother would not only eight shilling for the child, but she would be fit for work.


The author is talking from the perspective of a Dubliner. He computes that Dublin, with its many weddings and Christenings, would eat about 20,000 children a year. The rest of the country would eat 80,000 children.


The author proposes the laws for Ireland. In the 18th century, Ireland was under great economic strain.


The author states beggar children sell themselves to Barbadoes. This refers to colonists in Barbados in the West Indies using slaves for their sugar cane plantations.


A gentleman in the Irish town of Cavan told the author children under the age of six are proficient in the art of stealing.


The author states a proportion of Roman Catholic children are born nine months after lent. Consequently from March the markets would be full of children's carcasses.


Salmanaazor was a native of the island of Formosa. He told the author's friend Formasians sell the carcasses of children they execute. This is a mocking tribute to the the famous imposter George Psalmanazar.


The author states marriage would benefit greatly from the sale of children. Rather than fear the financial burden their unborn children would place on them, the husband and wife will look forward to its birth. With the knowledge that the child will bring in money the husband will treat his wife with the respect she deserves.


The author does not have a high opinion of England. When the author states, "I could name a country that be glad to to eat up our whole nation," he is referring to England.

This section contains 373 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
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