“A Modest Proposal” Essay
Jonathan Swift writes a satirical passage to criticize the England government on their lack of participation in helping the hungry citizens during the years of drought they are experiencing.In his overly exaggerated proposal, he uses an abundance of features of style, voice, and organization to express his point he is trying to make through satire.
Swift’s choices on the variety of different features of style he uses were decided upon the fact that this passage is purely satirical.In paragraphs 20-26, Swift uses mature diction to express his standing with the England government.
Paragraph 20 says, “I think the advantages of the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.” Here he is claiming that this proposal is very important, and that the government should agree with him.
He writes like he is well educated on the ideas he is proposing. In essence, this is a legitimate proposal to the government, so his choice in words have to sound sophisticated. As his subject is about ingesting children, it clearly makes sense for him to use a refined vocabulary. If he would use his vocabulary loosely, the exaggeration and satire in the passage would not be as obvious.
A blunt voice is in use during the passage. Swift approaches his point immediately to present the urgency of the problem he is addressing. England is experiencing drought, which is a serious issue that he feels could be resolved by selling, killing and eating children.
In paragraph 25 he states, “Fifthly, this food would likewise bring great custom to taverns, where the vintners will certainly be so prudent as to procure the best receipts for dressing it to perfection..” He straight up tells us that children will make great food. There is no other way to express this point and get the same effect unless it is done bluntly. He wants the government to recognize their absence in the current issue, and being straight-forward with each point he makes guides the reader to believe that the passage is purely satirical, but that there is an underlying meaning with his satire.
The organization of the essay was very structured. It is clear that he thoroughly thought out each of his ideas, and he presented them in a strategic way to make his point. In paragraph 21 he says, “For first, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the number of papists, with whom we are yearly overrun, being the principal breeders of the nation as well as our most dangerous enemies; and who stay at home on purpose to deliver the kingdom of the Pretender, hoping to take their advantage by the absence of so many food Protestants, who have chosen rather to leave their country than stay at home and pay tithes against their conscience to an Episcopal curate.”
This shows he is even thinking about religion and how his proposal will affect everyone else in England. He expresses many stomach wrenching thoughts, which could get very confusing if he did not have them structured in an orderly fashion. A mess of ideas about eating children would take away from the actual satire in the passage. The reader would be very mislead and may lose the hint of satire he perfectly presents in his writing.
Jonathan Swift composes a proposal to not eat children, but to try and open the governments eyes on the problems they are facing. Through style, voice and organization he pulls off a fabulous satirical piece with immense detail and wonderful diction.