Retorical Stragies of Modest Proposal

A Modest Proposal, Irony, Satire

Olivia Owens
Essay 6
Abra Gibson
A Modest Proposal’s Rhetorical Strategies
Jonathan Swift’s 1729 “A Modest Proposal,” definitely grasps the reader’s attention with an outrageous proposal using satire. His use of rhetorical strategies formats his article into a well-organized argument. The purpose of his argument is to raise awareness about the starving people of Ireland. Swift, being one of the most prestigious writers of his times forms a solid argument using each of the following rhetorical strategies, ethos, pathos, and logos. By using a satire, Swift hopes to grasp the attention of the English elites. Swift tries to persuade his audience by proposing a serve and disreputable solution, hoping it will bring enough awareness to the issue, that people might start thinking about real solutions to the indefinite problem of over population and starvation.

Swift was a Protestant clergyman, which provides ethos to his argument. He has the authority to know about the church and its regulations. Swift being dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin gave him a positive ethos. The reason he wrote the article was because he cared about the people dying of starvation and also, the pressing mater of over population. Having to watch it happen firsthand, it gave Swift an emotional appeal to the subject. All Swift wanted was a solution and for others to be aware of the crisis. Swift hoped to grab the attention of people in the clergy who had the resources to help the starving Irish. At the same time the article was written, Ireland was ruled by England. Many important people with the ability to change what was going on in Ireland didn’t care enough. They probably weren’t affected as much by this fathom because they didn’t have to watch it first hand. Swift assumes that his audience will be somewhat upset and bothered by his suggestion to sell and eat the poor’s children. By making such an irrational suggestion, he hopes people will be more open to making...
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