A Modest Proposal

March 18, 2019 by Essay Writer

In his essay, A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift uses the literary devices of organization, point of view, diction and imagery to maneuver the reader into identifying the need for humans to let both logic and emotion govern decisions. Jonathan Swift, in order to prepare his audience for his radical proposal to provide for the large starving Irish population, first identifies the problem and provides hard facts before stating his actual scheme, so that the reader may see the logic in his otherwise horrifying plan of eating Irish infants. In the first five paragraphs, Swift addresses the problem of Ireland’s huge starving population as an unfortunate predicament, but not one of his own concerns. His explanation appeals to those indifferent about the plight of the Irish beggars, such as the English, informing them of a regrettable fact. However, in the sixth paragraph, in his last attempt to gain the audience’s support, he resorts to dry facts, hoping that the readers will abandon emotional ties and regard this problem and its solution with only logic and reason. Swift’s organization of the essay, particularly his deliberate delay in stating the thesis, gives him a certain power, by which he shares with the audience ideas that, unprepared for, they would have immediately rejected.In narrating his essay, Swift chooses to write as a naïve narrator who actually takes the side of the people he is trying to chastise. By writing from the point of view of a person not at all sympathetic of the Irish condition then over exaggerating as to the inconvenience the beggars pose on the sophisticated elite and proposing such an absurd and grotesque solution, Swift illustrates the actual preposterousness of Irish oppression, and his true feelings towards the English exploitation of the Irish. Since, in the narrator’s opinion, the beggars contribute to the “deplorable state of the kingdom”, a concern of only the wealthy, Swift almost comically shows how inconsiderate and self-absorbed the wealthy are to think that the poor, living in abject poverty, are merely an unsightly nuisance. Swift counts on his audience seeing through the shallow narrator and come to the conclusion that you must rely on emotion as well as logic when considering how to provide for the Irish. Emotional ties are dealt with ironically throughout the piece, noticeable first in Swift’s comment about the “horrid practice” of abortions and killing illegitimate children, which seems not as immoral considering his plan of killing and eating children a year old, then again when he says in all sincerity that he could not experience the least personal gain, since his youngest child was too old to be eaten. By writing from the point of view opposite to his own, Swift easily has his narrator highlight the mistakes and faults of the English, and can sway the reader’s opinions to agree with his own.Swift’s choice of diction in A Modest Proposal enables him to control the reader’s opinion of the society and its treatment of the Irish. The powerful words he uses, such as describing the Irish as animals, helps the narrator justify butchering and eating children. However, when the different methods of cooking children are discussed, he relies on the compassion and ethics his audience retains to turn the readers against the narrator. Breeding humans like livestock is unthinkable; it disregards emotional ties and morals, which is what sets humans above animals. The vivid descriptions tie the “proposal” to cannibalism, a crime that would bring humans down, from the role as the superior race, to the level of hyenas and other uncivilized animals. Through his word choice, Jonathan Swift successfully illustrates the failure of the English intervention and feudal governing techniques thus far.

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