Analysis of Johnathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal"

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Hannah Tompkins
Mrs. Packard
AP English Language and Composition
8 February 2012
Would You Like a Baby With That?
In 1729, Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels, published his piece “A Modest
Proposal,” based on the hardships many Irish were enduring at this time. In Ireland, years of drought had been exacerbated by a crop failure; this was the leading cause of thousands of Irish men and woman starving to death. The English simply ignored this tragedy and “A Modest Proposal” was Swift’s way of responding. Swift reveals a sardonic and skeptical way of perceiving issues through his incredible use of satire, tone, and logos.

The reasoned and confident tone Swift embodies cannot be mistaken; the authorative and
motivational appeals give depth and emotion to his argument. In a moment of weakness, Swift admits the strongest objection to any proposal – dealing with the digestion of children – is that it would be regarded as cruel. His tone appeals to gentility at times, because, mainly, he just wants to portray his proposal for stimulating Ireland’s economy. Beginning the essay in a more satirical and casual way, the proceeding part of the essay delves deeper into the more serious point of Swift’s argument: the United Kingdom turning their head to the fact that Ireland is struggling. “But I am not in the least pain upon that matter, because its very well known that they are every day dying and rotting by cold and famine, and filth and vermin, as fast as can be reasonably expected,” (412) leads into comprehension that he has for too long drawn out this metaphor and decides to embark onto his next point of statistics and family living. Proven through, “I have too long digressed, and therefore shall return to my subject. I think the advantages by the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance,” (413) Swift thinks of his proposal as the ‘end-all, be-all’ to Ireland’s issue in order to evoke an aura of...
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