Swift’s dehumanizing satire strives to shed light on the horrible situation of English/Irish tensions in Ireland. On a basic level Swift indicts the English Protestants for their cruel and inhumane treatment of the papists, or poor Catholics, through both political and economic oppression. This is seen most clearly when his projector muses that England would be more than willing to eat the Irish even without such a proposal, saying, “.I could name a country which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it.”
Yet perhaps even more criticism is heaped on the Irish for not recognizing the horror of their own situation, and not taking constructive steps to remedy the problem. The very fact that such an immodest proposal can be given and received with such seriousness proves that all peoples involved have lost even the thinnest shred of human decency and respect.
On a larger lever, Swift successfully indicts the brutality of man as a whole. A Modest Proposal goes well beyond the limits of Europe, shedding a sickening light on all
humanity and the way in which we treat each other.