Rhetoric in “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift Essay (Article)

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jan 21st, 2021

Does A Modest Proposal appeal to character, emotion, and/or reason? Cite specific moments in the text where Swift employs any or all of these persuasive tools

In A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift satirically addresses the deplorable living conditions that the people of Ireland experienced during the eighteenth century. With this well-written satire, Swift employs an argumentative style, character, detached tone, and emotion to create and implement the shocking revelation. Swift stirs emotions in this proposal but the idea is communicated in a systematic way opposing moral and emotional methods. Swift strikes the reader’s emotions in the very first paragraph of the proposal. The description of the women and children in rags is real but at the same time compassionate.

To emphasize emotions, Swift states that “these mothers instead of being able to work for their honest livelihoods, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country, to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to Barbados.” The pathos, ethos, and logos in this proposal show that the author does appeal to reason, character, and emotions. The author’s appeal to reason is seen in the itemized list whereby Papists are plenty.

The proposal contains ethical and logical arguments that elicit the reader’s emotions especially on the suggestion that “whoever has a cheap solution to the dilemma in Ireland should have a statue put up in their own.” Concerning Swift’s description of the young lads and maidens, he focuses on the character and ethics of the society.

Does Swift come across to readers as a credible, authoritative author? Why or why not? Despite the satirical nature of A Modest Proposal, is Swift trustworthy as an author?

Jonathan swift was an Augustan author and the Augustans were known for their belief in the power of reason. The authors who existed during the Augustan era wrote about society and its evils. They were not afraid of satirizing the influential people of the society and their work served as a moral voice. For this reason, Swift comes across as a credible but not an authoritative author. Instead of writing serious pieces to espouse his beliefs, Swift chooses to use satire to communicate the deplorable conditions in Ireland. All the same, his use of satire is well calculated because this way he can get the public’s attention.

A Modest Proposal brings Swift across as a trustworthy author who can communicate important societal issues through the use of satire. Swift speaks about sensitive subjects therefore, it is much safer to use satire rather than directly challenge the authority.

Does Swift’s manipulation of weakening his argument? Why or why not? What are Swift’s proposed advantages?

Swift does conduct some math to establish the number of miscarriages, deaths, and the number of children born in a year. Swift has grave reasons to suggest the selling of children to the rich. His manipulation of data regarding the children to be consumed each year does not weaken his argument. This is because his solution is economic. Paying the mothers for their children would be advantageous to them for they would solve the food shortage.

According to Swift, the advantages of selling children for consumption would be many. These would include: the children would be more appreciated and they will be kept in good condition. Abortions would reduce since would want financial compensation. At the same time, thieves would be a thing of the past for the children would be useful to the rich.

Does Swift claim fact, value, and/or policy? If so, identify these moments in the essay

In A Modest of Proposal, Swift does claim fact and value; his suggested policy of children does make a claim as well. Through the use of satire, Swift puts across the facts about the bad conditions of living during the time. This is valuable for it calls for remodeling and the rich to change their ways. The fact is that the poor are in a downward cycle but instead of the rich help in solving their problems, they criticized them.

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