Analysis for a Modest Proposal

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Alexis Du
English 104 (Thur)
Mr. Swaim 05/24/2012

Analysis for A Modest Proposal

In the essay “A Modest Proposal”, the author Jonathan Swift proposes that 1 year-old infants born to impoverished Irish parents should be sold and cooked for the gourmet and luxury pleasures of the privileged people of England . Swift claims that because there are an enormous population of starved children, eating them would not only help control their population, but also contribute to the overall economic wellness of the country. This essay will be dedicated to analyzing “A Modest Proposal” by observing the claim, warrant, and support present in the proposal, as well as evaluate the overall composition of the essay.

According to Swift, he has “been assured by a very knowing American of [his] acquaintance... that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled" (356). From this, he draws the claim that “of the hundred and twenty thousand children, already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed... [and] that the remaining hundred thousand may at a year old be offered in sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table” (356). The claim that Swift is making here is a claim of policy, because he asserts that infants should be sold as food, which proposes a clear action of need, with an apparent plan and benefits laid out.

In order to buy into Swift’s plan of infant-cannibalism, there are several warrants that readers must buy into. First, readers must accept that too many un-fed children cause an enormous national problem. With this acknowledgment, readers are more likely to support the author’s claim. Second, readers must buy into the premise that the rich and privileged portion of the population is more superior than the poor Irish people. If this is not accepted, readers will be likely to take...
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