A Modest Proposal – Analytical Response
By Garry Jenkins
‘A Modest Proposal’, written by Jonathan Swift in 1729, is a satirical text responding to the social issues in Ireland relating to the increasing population, leading to more homeless beggars struggling to support themselves let alone their many children. Swift’s clever use of irony, sarcasm, paralipsis, hyperbole and evocative language helps convey his point of view. Swift proposes that the poor should sell their children in order to obtain a profit. He utilizes his work to satirically place much of the blame on England in order to help the defenceless poor beggars.
Swift is using the majority of satirical techniques. The whole essay is an example of grim irony and understatement. This irony is the dominant figure of speech and creates a totally opposite meaning of what Swift is trying to convey. The reader is shocked when the idea of eating offspring is announced, he also believes that selling and eating the children will ease the economy and presents financial calculations to support his proposal; and to complement a horrific statement, he offers cooking advice on how to prepare and serve the newborn offspring. Metaphors are used throughout the text, an example includes ‘A child just dropped from its dam’, emphasizing that the child was not literally dropped from its dam, but instead the child came out of the mothers whom. An interesting device used in the text is paralipsis where Swift is emphasizing beliefs by pretending to ignore it, for example when he says: ‘Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients: Of taxing our absentees at five shillings a pound: Of using neither clothes, nor household furniture, except what is of our own growth and manufacture: Of utterly rejecting the materials and instruments that promote foreign luxury...’. Hyperbole is used throughout the text to over exaggerate his ideas and beliefs, for example, ‘eating children’ and the ‘deplorable state of the...
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