Guided Questions – A Modest Proposal
AP English Lit. / Grad. Project
Name: ______Date: ______PD. ______
Directions: Read A Modest Proposal and then answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper. Be prepared to address these points during class discussion.
1. Just as the narrator is about to make his "modest proposal," he says that he hopes it "will not be liable to the least objection." Why does he express this wish? Why does he call his proposal "modest"? What literary technique is he employing and give other examples of the same technique from the essay. This essay is often referred to as the prime example of sustained verbal irony in English literature. Why?
2. What are the six principal advantages to the author's program?
3. Swift chose words with strong connotations; that is, words loaded with strong feelings or associations. Here are some of his ‘loaded’ words: savages, Popish infants, beggars, breeders. For each instance, find a less harsh word that Swift could have used. Find three other examples of connotation/denotation in the essay.
Paragraph 4 refers to “a child just dropped from its dam.” The essay contains other examples of terms usually applied only to animals. Why does Swift use this device?
4. What is the historical event that prompted Swift to write this essay? List some of the shocking details of life in Ireland that the essay casually reveals. Who are some of the major targets ofSwift's satire?
5. In one sentence, summarize the ‘proposal’.
6. If a reader does not know that this is a satire when he/she begins reading, at what point would he or she realize that Swift was putting them on?