Greed and Power…The Death of a Society Essay

Greed and Power…The Death of a Society Essay

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In his satiric essay, A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift proposes eating children in order to highlight the fact that other plausible measures for fixing Ireland’s economic problems are being ignored. Swift implies that a nation’s most significant problems stem from the greed of the wealthy. He asserts this through his use of diction, satire, and ethos.
Diction is used by the author in order to imply that those who are financially blessed generate a nation’s biggest problems. Swift’s choice of formal yet derogatory diction projects his own perspective on how the rich view the poor. He uses the word “scheme” to describe his plan although he criticizes “several schemes of other projectors” (Swift 4). This is one of the first clues that helps to indicate that even Swift dislikes his idea, one aggressively bolstered by the rich who have money to gain. Words like “sacrificing…innocent” and “crucified” depict a savage death, usually in return for something that will benefit the greater good like that of Christ or a soldier dying when returning to a bombed area to save a small child (5 and 18). However, in this case, rather than sacrificing themselves, Swift explains that the rich will unfeelingly allow the poor to suffer unmentionable deaths in order for the rich to make enough profit to account for the “expensiveness of [their] idleness (28).” His choice of belittling diction through the words “savages” and “reserved for breed” points out the condescending way in which those of the upper class view the masses (10). These words show them as little more than uncivilized animals to be sold at the market, which through his proposal, would become a reality. Swift’s choice in diction helps to emphasize the widening schism between the rich a...


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...the country of Cavan” within his essay (18 and 6). Swift’s use of ethos assures the reader that there are people other than him who concur with his ideas. Ethos helps to give readers a sense of security, a “Hey, if he likes it, it must be good” type of mentality. However, when scrutinized, one will notice that all those Swift cites are presumably wealthy people of the upper class. The essay contains no ethos from those of the lower class. Thus in effect Swift’s use of ethos also slyly places blame and reproach on the greed of the wealthy while also increasing the validity of his argument.
Swift’s use of diction, satire, and ethos asserts that the gluttony from the wealthy procures major problems for a nation. Although a satire was needed for the people of old Ireland to realize this, for the people of the modern world, such knowledge came with little persuasion.

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