A Modest Proposal Rhetorical Analysis

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Jonathan Swift’s use of satire in his writing of A Modest Proposal allows him to criticize his audience and make his main point without directly stating it. Swift creates a man who appears concerned and sympathetic towards the poor people while still agreeing and identifying with the upper class of Ireland. The reader’s confidence in the speaker quickly diminishes when he reveals his “modest proposal” to eat children in order to effectively reduce poverty and overpopulation. Swift’s main goal in his pamphlet is quite different from the explicit goal of the speaker and so Swift writes a satire in order to get his implicit point across. Swift strategically creates a speaker who initially appears sensitive and trustworthy, however the speaker is not reliable because he is just as illogical and overdramatic as the people that Swift is criticizing.

Swift is extremely intentional in crafting a complex character to tell his story. The speaker initially comes across as a respectable man. He first sympathizes with the poor people in Ireland and makes himself appear sensitive and empathetic. For example, he says, the “mothers instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants” (Swift, 831). The speaker also gets on the upper class citizens’ good sides. He rubs their egos by referring to them as “a very worthy person, a true lover of his country, and whose virtues I highly esteem” (834). He attempts to gain the respect from all the citizens of Ireland in order to get people to actually listen to and consider his argument. Without this trust and respect, the reader would dismiss the speaker’s ideas immediately due to their crazy forefront.

The speaker’s character appears to be a trustworthy man at first, but he quickly shows his true self of being illogical and overdramatic. He gives a line of logical ideas and proposals but then says how they are all...
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