A Modest Proposal Essay

A Modest Proposal Essay

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In Jonathan Swift’s satire, “A Modest Proposal”, Swift writes about the starving people of Ireland in the early 1700’s. He makes a wild and absurd proposal to help remedy the problems of overpopulation and poverty. Swift wants to make a political statement by using the “children” as satire to grasp the attention of the audience - the English people, the Irish politicians and the rich – and make them aware of the political, moral, and social problems. In “A Modest Proposal”, Swift’s arguments are presented effectively by using pathos (emotional appeal), ethos (ethics and values), and logos (logic reasoning and facts).
Swift begins his argument by stating his view on the situation and displaying his annoyance. He states, "It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town or travel in the country when they see the streets, roads, and cabin doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms" (Swift 1). He uses melancholic imagery for the readers to sympathize with the suffering children and to understand their situation. Similarly, Swift displays his disgust for the wealthy by stating that "There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that it will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children… which would move tears in the most savage and inhumane beast" (1). He talks about abortion and shows how ghastly and disheartening the practice is. Clearly, Swift makes use of pathos to slowly gain the reader’s confidence in preparation for his appalling proposal. He knows that many will be emotionally affected by his proposal because no one would want their own c...


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...ture the attention of the audience by means of “political pamphleteering which is very popular during his time” (SparkNotes Editors). The language and style of his argument is probably why it is still popular till this day. By using satire, Swift makes his point by ridiculing the English people, the Irish politicians, and the wealthy. He starts his proposal by using emotional appeal and as it progresses, he uses ethos to demonstrate credibility and competence. To show the logical side of the proposal, he uses facts and figures. By applying these rhetorical appeals, Swift evidently makes his argument more effectual.














Works Cited

SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on A Modest Proposal”. SparkNotes LLC. n.d..
SparkNotes.com. 5 Mar 2011. http://Sparknotes.com/lit/modestproposal/section5.rhtml.
Swift, Jonathan. “A Modest Proposal”. Handout. Pp. 1-5.

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