It doesn't take long to summarize the
short "pamphlet" that is Swift's Modest Proposal. To remedy the problem of the poverty-stricken,
oppressed and uneducated population of Catholics in Ireland, Swift's projector calmly and rationally
proposes that thousands of the children should be killed and eaten. This will help both the overpopulated
poor, who can't afford to care for their children anyway, and the rich, who will get a good meal out
of the whole process. Even in his introduction he explains the reason for his proposal: "for Preventing
the Children of poor People in Ireland, from being a Burden to their Parents or Country; and for making
them beneficial to the Publick."
What follows is a very artful attempt to justify such a seemingly outrageous scheme. Yet throughout
the discourse, the projector never loses his cool, but proceeds to logically lay out the ground work
for such a proposal.
reasons he uses to advance his plan are summarized below. First, eating the poor children will
solve the problem of population among the papists, or the Catholics. Second, it will make the
remaining papists richer, since they will have such valuable commodities to sell in exchange for rent
credit, etc. Third, it will help the economy since less money will have to be spent on the upbringing
of so many poor children. This system, lastly, will produce a better cultural environment for
Ireland as a whole, encouraging marriage and the charms of the tavern.
Finally, the projector defends his intentions in offering such a proposal, explaining that he has no
personal advantages which will be derived from his plan, since his children are all too old to kill
and his wife is too old to have more children.