Rhetorical Analysis of a Modest Proposal

Topics: Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal, Satire Pages: 3 (1212 words) Published: April 8, 2012
All the Wrong Things

Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” written in 1729 was his proposal “for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland, from being a burden on their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to he publick” (Swift, Title). This proposal included the selling, skinning and buying of babies at the age of one. This proposal that he has come up with is a very inhuman and controversial one when it comes to being socially acceptable.

Swift begins his essay by describing walking down a street in Ireland. He describes how you would see, “beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms” (Swift, Para. 1). This gives the reader a mental picture of how bad things are for the women he is trying to help. Swift then talks about how there are very many of these poor people in Ireland and how they are not able to be part of the middle or working class. He then proposes his idea that the children could, “contribute to the feeding, and partly to the cloathing of many thousands” (Swift, Para. 4). In no way, shape, or form is the eating of or the using of children in this manner acceptable. No society would ever find it suitable to eat or make babies into clothes. Dr. Swift has made a proposal that he should know would not work because of the inhumanity that it is asking people in which to participate.

Jonathan Swift later tells the reader of how he has, “computed the charge of nursing a beggar's child (in which list I reckon all cottagers, labourers, and four-fifths of the farmers) to be about two shillings per annum, rags included; and I believe no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child,” (Swift, Para. 14). This is a good thing that Swift does telling how the mother would stand to make money on selling her child to a man for dinner. Except, I do not believe you couldn’t find a willing mother to sell her child knowing that it...
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