A Modest Proposal Summary and Response
Jonathan Swift starts off “A Modest Proposal” by giving the reader a bit of background information on Ireland’s current conditions at the time of publication. By doing so, Swift grasps the reader’s emotion and pulls them into the story. Then, when Swift makes a dramatic switch to his suggestion of cannibalism to stimulate the economy, he is able to fully grab the reader’s attention. Swift’s proposal is extreme and entirely unethical, but isn’t meant to be taken literally. His radical proposal of having babies to feed to the public and stimulate the economy, is his proposal to the public, but is not the heart of the essay. This radical proposal that takes on an alternate message is what classifies the piece as satire. Adding to the satire, Swift refers to women as breeders that can boost the despairing economy by having children that can be killed at one year old and be fed to the people of Ireland. It’s apparent that this extremist proposal is mockery of the Irish government and the cure-all proposals the politicians conjure, and getting the reader to think about these key political issues is the sole purpose of “A Modest Proposal.”
In my opinion, Swift’s essay had a strong impact, and I’m sure had an even stronger impact in the era in which it was written. His use of hyperboles, metaphors, irony, and sarcasm greatly influenced the message. Because of his literary techniques he was able to draw the reader in to his essay and really get his message across. Word choice was another very effective technique used by Swift. By referring to women as breeders, he not only denounced them, but he was able to add to the ludicrous tone he was aiming to achieve. Every good piece of writing establishes in some ways ethos, pathos, and logos. Swift appeals to ethos in his argument by comparing venison to teenagers, an example of a truly outrageous and unethical idea. Another unethical idea Swift presents is that of the...
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