A Modest Proposal
Jonathan Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal’ is a brilliant example of irony that was employed in the writing of late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Swift in his essay mounts aggravation at the deplorable state of Ireland due to England’s exploitation and also expresses disgust for the Irish people for not mobilizing on their own behalf (Britannica Encyclopedia). Without excusing any party, he criticizes not only the English or the Irish landed elites but also the masses for the dreadful condition of the country. Written to address the general public in 1729, the essay ‘proposes’ that in order to reduce poverty in Ireland, the children of the lowly should be sold as food to the wealthy. This will not only lower the population but also provide income to the poor. The style of Swift’s writing, the structure and detail of his scheme, the value laden language and metaphoric examples help him accomplish his task. Swift has paid particular attention to the detail and the development of his ‘modest proposal’. He systematically states the idea of devouring infants and goes on to brief the readers on his scheme. During this, he successfully persuades the readers to the believe that any previous proposals introduced to eradicate poverty have had loopholes and that his idea is the most viable. Though he remains neutral and unbiased in his argument, he maintains a self-righteous stance as he states that others’ ideas, though “maturely weighted (…) I have always found them grossly mistaken”. The author also allows room for counter arguments but then cleverly dismantles them logically. For instance, when he anticipates that his proposal would drastically lower the population of the country, he addresses the concern with the notion that reducing the populace is one of the primary objectives of his scheme, “This I freely own, and 'twas indeed one principal design in offering it to the world”. Swift’s writing has abundant criticism and sarcasm and he...
Cited: Rottenberg, Annette T. Elements of Argument: a text and reader. Boston: Bedford Books of St.martin 's Press. 1991. Print.
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