Modest Proposal Analysis

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Category: English Composition

Date Submitted: 09/25/2011 01:53 PM

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English 211 Essay #2

In a modest proposal written by Jonathan Swift, swift writes about the starving people of Ireland in the early 1700’s. The purpose of his essay is to raise awareness of this issue to the world, so others know about their crisis. Swift persuades his audience by proposing an extreme and unethical solution. He does this in hopes that others will start thinking and bring up actual solutions. He vents his anger towards Ireland’s politicians, the hypocrisy of the wealthy, the tyranny of the English, and the harsh conditions he sees so many Irish people living in around him. He reveals the complete lack of morality present in a society that values wealth of money over the well being of its citizens. Swift writes like this in hopes that his audience will be upset and bothered by his suggestion to sell and eat poor children.

Swift appears to suggest in his essay that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling children as food for rich gentlemen. Swift goes to great lengths to support his argument, including a list of possible preparation styles for the children, and calculations showing the financial benefits of his suggestion. He uses common methods of argument throughout his essay, such as appealing to the authority of “a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London.” Much of its shock value derives from the fact that the first portion of the essay describes the plight of starving beggars in Ireland, so that the reader is unprepared for the surprise of Swift’s solution when he states, “A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled, and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout.” Once the reader has read this they start to realize the real points to this essay. He objectifies the children and talks about them as a commodity; Swift turns people into animals,...