Modest Proposal

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Swift’s Argument There are many different ways to write an argumentative paper. An argumentative paper is a paper designed to push a reader toward an idea or feeling an author evokes (Skywire 332). An author will try to make ludicrous ideas seem more appealing to the reader. “A Modest Proposal” is a great example of this technique. Johnathan Swift, an Irish clergyman, wrote an argumentative paper to mock the English. Swift’s paper was an eating Irish babies. This would sound like a ludicrous idea, but Swift makes it seem like it would help the economy. He uses many of the basic argumentative techniques to support this idea. This most obvious technique used by Swift was card stacking. He only talked about his side of the situation (Skywire 336). He made a baby seem like it would become a highly demanded dish. People around the world would pay dearly for it and the money would help Ireland’s economy (Swift 363-4). He never talked about the parent’s side. He hid how they would feel pain and heartache of a lost child. He keeps the reader’s mind thinking about the positive aspects, and never even touches on the negative ones. He even introduced slanting into his text. Slanting is a writing technique that shows great approval or disapproval about a subject (Skywire 336). He made it seem that he loved the idea of eating a baby. It would be the new delicacy on all menus (Swift 364-5). With this opinion on the great demand for human flesh, he used a hasty generalization. Swift made a hasty generalization by basing his knowledge that everyone would love human flesh on an incident on the island of Formosa (Swift 365). Swift learned through a native of Formosa that when a child was put to death, his body was sold as a “Prime dainty” (Swift 365-6). He said how even the prime minister of the state had bought a girl put to death because of treason (Swift 365-6). So he deducts that since they like it then the whole world will. Swift built the readers up by using numbers and showing how kids are a pain and just get in the way (Swift 364-5). He even went as far as to say that the kids he proposes to eat are children of beggars that can’t afford them anyway (Swift 364-5).

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