Satire at its Finest A masterful satire, this is what Jonathon Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” is. The writing is used to construct a misunderstood proposal that comments on the social hardship of Ireland while blaming the government’s incompetence as well as the morals of the country. His proposal makes it visible to others that there is a need for social reform. From the beginning, it is not clear to the readers of what Swift’s true proposal actually is, but as it is being broken apart, one can see that the entire writing is full of sarcasm.
The proposal itself speaks to the people who ignore the issues but who are also the ones that can fix them. As a proposed solution, that author states in the intro that “for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland from being a burden to their parents or country, for making them beneficial to the public” (Swift 239). Swift is bringing upon an attempt to find a cheap and easy method for bringing children of the poor into the commonwealth as well as turning the problem that is amuck, into its own solution.
He uses analogies for the way people, a nation, can be devoured and how the nation is consuming itself and its own resources. “I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords who, as they have already devoured most of their parents, seem to have the best title to the children”(Swift 240). Swift has effective and ineffective ways of using different literary techniques that will intrigue one or leave them completely baffled with his proposal. At first glance of this writing, a reader can be nothing but appalled, though it causes one to think about realistic solutions and to take action.
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Swift’s proposal is effective by which he delivers his argument so efficiently and with such detail and use of sarcastic comparisons, exaggerations, and emotional appeals. His main solution to this problem is the practice of selling and eating children. “A young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome for, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or ragout”(Swift 240). He uses statistical support and specific data about pricing, rates, and population numbers, to make his argument more agreeable and supportive.
To make his proposal so effective, the author uses good structure, tone, language, and rhetorical appeals. The use of suggestive language makes it hard for the reader to not agree with his arguments. Though the language is clear, it is at a cross with the tone. The tone though full of sarcasm and irony, changes throughout and also reduces human beings and compares them to livestock. An example of this is when Swift writes that “women as breeders,” and “children just drooped from its darn” (Swift 241).
At first, the author was sympathetic toward the people, but then it becomes more sarcastic again. The use of ethos, logos, and pathos play a large role in making this writing so effective. The constant flow of disgust and humor, have an effect on the reader emotionally, creating pathos. The ethos and logos give the writing underlying meaning, while the logos create an unsympathetic feeling allowing the proposal to come off as one that is opposed. With the author creating different methods of cooking children, the ethos is weakened. A wholesome food whether stewed, roasted, baked or boiled” (Swift 240). With supporting evidence from friends, Swift provides details on better consumption ages, flavors, and experience. This proposal also has some techniques that make it ineffective in its writing. The author is portraying himself to be from a self-righteous moral stance. His stance on the sides is not easy to identify. The irony used is to criticize the society that enables all these problems and the poverty of others while at the same time it is degrading the poor.
His writing shows a lack of compassion for the human life, and by being one-sided and not considering opposing viewpoints, it loses some effectiveness. By discriminating, one would suggest it has an effect on it as well. The story does contain fallacies. One of these fallacies is appeal to authority. Jonathon Swift suggests a friend, who it seems is one of a higher status, who describes the different ages, value and ways that he and others have committed cannibalism. This fallacy is an argument that attempts to overawe an opponent into accepting a conclusion, appealing to ones feelings of modesty.
Overall, “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathon Swift is a very well created satire. Not only does this piece of literature draw one into the progressions of tones and use of strong and witty language, but there are statistics and data to make this argument favorable. In the end of Swift’s writing, he tells us that he has nothing to gain economically, being that he has no children. With this act, one can see that the author is being more sincere than previously believed. The author uses effective and ineffective ways of using different literary tools and tricks that draw many people into is proposal and to see the ultimate reason for it. The rhetorical appeals, structure, tone, discrimination and many details make this writing so intriguing. This absurd request is a way in which to better attempt an economical change in Ireland and to reveal what others wish to not see in the country. His method to get there is one of great success. Work Cited: Swift, Jonathon. “A Modest Proposal. ” Reading Literature and Writing Argument. Eds. Missy James and Alan P. Merickel. 4th ed. Boston: Longman/Pearson, 2011. 238-44. Print.
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