Rhetorical Analysis of a Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

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Johnathan Swift wrote Modest Proposal with the idea to better humanity.. When you first read it you miss what the true message is. You think “Man this guy is a monster!” or “He’s sick!”, but once you reach the end the true meaning of the proposal hits you. When Jonathan Swift wrote a Modest Proposal he tried to get his audience to see the problem by taking it and providing an unethical and inhumane solution then using rhetorical devices to bring out people’s emotions. Of the many devices he used the one that brought out my emotions and that stuck out the most was his constant metaphor of comparing or “labeling” children as stock or the bodies as carcasses. He does this on multiple occasions throughout this proposal. On one occasion he said: For instance, the addition of some thousand carcasses in our exportation of barreled beef, the propagation of swine’s flesh, and improvement in the art of making good bacon, so much wanted among us by the great destruction of pigs, too frequent at our tables; which are no way comparable in taste or magnificence to a well-grown, fat, yearling child, which roasted whole will make a considerable figure at a lord mayor’s feast or any other public entertainment. (Swift 6) Also at “…mare in foal, their cows in calf, their sows when they are ready to farrow; nor offer to beat or kick them (as is too frequent a practice) for fear of a miscarriage.” (Swift 6) In the first quote he compares the “carcass” to the well-known image of a roasted pig with an apple in its mouth at rich men’s parties. Then in the other quote he compares the mothers to animals pregnant with offspring you can up-and-sell. He also states to use 15,000 women and 5,000 men for breeders (Swift 3), as a rancher would h... ... middle of paper ... ...the fact that he exaggerates all sorts of things. He says abortions are inhumane but his proposal to kill and eat children is a “modest proposal”. He shows sarcasm, which is a key part of satire in the fact that in order to be satirical, you have to use textbook sarcasm since a satire is completely over the top and sarcastic. He shows this by his title and the suggestion itself. When Johnathan Swift wrote this he wanted to get people to realize that there was a big problem in Ireland and that the Irish needed to fix it. So he suggested an over the top proposal that outraged many people into finding a better way to fix it. Which solidifies the fact that Jonathan Swift in a modest proposal tried to get his audience to see the problem in Ireland by taking the problem, providing an inhumane way to fix it and then using rhetorical devices to bring out people’s emotions.

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