Jltreen’s Weblog

February 16, 2008

Rhetorical Analysis- A Modest Proposal

Filed under: Uncategorized — jltreen @ 12:26 am

Jonathan Swift, author of “A Modest Proposal”, wrote of about the starving people of Ireland in the early 1700’s.   The purpose of his argument is to raise awareness of the issue.  Swift persuades his audience by proposing an extreme and unethical solution, in hopes that he will get others to start thinking about actual solutions.            

Swift, a priest of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, creates positive ethos. He wrote the article because he cares about the poor and wants to see a solution.   Swift wants others to be aware of the crisis.  He assumes people value human life and care about the hungry and the poor.  Swift assumes that his audience will be upset and bothered by his suggestion to sell and eat poor children.  His intended audience is the people of Ireland.  However, this issue is still prevalent today. 

Swift uses emotional and ethical appeals to make his argument.  By swift jokingly proposing that we eat the children he is appealing to paternal feelings.  He knows that many will be emotionally affected by his suggestion because no one would want their own child to be someone’s’ dinner.  Swift wanted to draw attention to the issue and he assumed most, if not all, would believe it is unethical to eat another human being.  I believe he used illogical reasoning and showed no remorse in order to get peoples attention. 

The language and style of his argument is probably why it is still popular today.  Swift used descriptive language to make his argument effective.  He not only suggests we eat children; he gave a detailed description.  Also, his use of satire throughout the article made his argument more effective.  I believe that without his use of satire his argument would not stand out like it does.  His language and use of satire are what makes his argument so effective. 

The purpose of this argument is to raise awareness about the poor starving people of Ireland.  The author, Jonathan Swift, proposes an unreasonable solution to draw attention to the problem.  With his use of satire, Swift hopes to get people thinking about alternative solutions that are more reasonable.  Overall, Swift wants to see an end to the starving people in Ireland. 


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