Essay about Irony in Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal

Essay about Irony in Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal

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Rhetorical strategies are techniques, which are used to make one’s writings more effective. The choice of rhetoric strategy depends on the type of subject being discussed. The effectiveness of appropriate strategy is directly related to the mood, which is to be created and maintained. For example if someone is criticizing the government, the tome is usually kept serious and Irony and satire are widely used in such writings. On the other hand while describing the recent developments in genetic engineering, the tone would be objective and humor or satire would be ineffective here.

Jonathan Swift was famous for his sarcastic remarks on the government of his days and his works are full of satire and irony which appear to be humorous but carry a sharp edge which make them effective for expressing political ideas. “Irony refers either to a situation which someone has misinterpreted, leading to consequences opposite to those intended; or to the use of language to state the opposite of what the writer really means in order to make the point more forceful.” Satire was used in Jonathan’s works in combination with irony to express a political idea or rather to comment on opposite political ideas. He wrote extensively against the government normally employing the technique of allegory so as to avoid direct attack on the political regimes. His most famous work “Gulliver’s Travels” is widely read as a book for children but readers of literature understand the importance of the book as a political commentary on the English Government. Swift’s works are heavily ironic and satirical and sometimes would leave a very unpleasant taste in the mouth. His political ideas are radical and when he chooses to oppose a view, his words would be usually ful...


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...But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.”

After analyzing both works we can safely conclude that that use of irony in Martin’s works was constructive in nature and was aimed at achieving a good purpose. On the other hand Jonathan Swift used satire and irony to openly lash out at poor people, it is a very destructive form of criticism and one that is meant to offend others.




Works Cited


1) Martin Luther King, Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 1963
2) Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal, 1729.

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