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RETHORICAL TECHNIQUES IN A MODEST PROPOSAL

Jonathan Swifts A Modest Proposal was written following

the classical rhetorical scheme. Nevertheless he uses

different rhetorical techniques in order to catch his

audiences attention, such as: hints to let the reader know

the tone of what is he going to propose, statistics to give

the sense of logic and reality to his proposal, and

vocabulary to address the proposal to an specific audience.

Swift uses a very specific vocabulary to address his essay to

the aristocracy; he is either trying to be sympathetic to

them to gain their approval or he is simply being ironical

with the behavior this class have with low one. Besides, most

likely, this social class is the one who is going read the

essay. It is a melancholy object to those who walk through

this great town or travel in the country, when they see the

streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of

the female sex, []. The word melancholy portrays this idea

of sympathy to the high class; Swift is saying that it is a

melancholy to see how beautiful streets are shadowed with the

image of poverty. I grant this food will be somewhat dear,

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and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have

already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best

title to the children. In this passage Swift is being very

ironical by saying that it doesnt matter if they consume the

children flesh because the upper class has already consumed

their parents soul. [], fat, yearling child, which roasted

whole will make a considerable figure at a lord mayors feast

or any other public entertainment. Tose who are more

thrifty [] may flay the carcass; the skin of which

artificially dressed will make admirable gloves for ladies,

and summer boots for fine gentlemen. With these passages

Swift is completely selling his proposal to the upper class

by telling them the benefices it would bring to them.

The usage of hints is an other rhetorical technique Swift

uses to catch the readers attention and to approach it to

the proposal in a delicate way. The first hint can be found

in the subtitle of the essay For preventing the children of

poor people in Ireland from being a burden to their parents

or country, [] the word burden leads to the idea that his

proposal will deal with a solution to erradicate the poor

children from Ireland.

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[] and it is exactly at one year old that I

propose to provide for them in such a manner as

instead of being a charge upon their parents or

the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the

rest of their lives, they shall on the contrary

contribute to the feeding and partly to the

clothing, of many thousands.

Eventhough he does not tell that his proposal has to do with

canivalism in its whole letters, he says in this passage that

all these children, that are a burden to their parents and to

the country, are going to be the main source of alimentation

of the country. And that his porposal will be relying on this

thesis.

In order to give perception of relity to his proposal, Swift

uses statistics through all the essay. This is a necesity the

text has due to the tone of irreality the proposal has. Even

with the statistics, while reading, one can think both that

the writer is being completely irreverent, or that the

proposal is a joke. a child just dropped from its dam may be

supported by her milk for a solar year, with little other

nourishment; at most not above the value of 2s. Infants

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flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more

plentiful in March, and a little before and after.

Supposing that one thousand families in this city, would be

constant customers for Infants Flesh, []. I compute that

Dublin would take off annually about twenty thousand

carcasses, and the rest of the Kingdom [] the remaining

eighty thousand. These are examples of the statistics the

author uses to give the feeling of reality and logic. These

technique makes the reader think that there is a slight

possibility the author might be talking serious and also

encourages us to be reflexive toward the problem he is

presenting, poverty.

All these techniques were carefully applied in the text to

approach the reader to the text. The last paragraph is the

last hint which tells us that he was being ironical the whole

time. One would think that if he is proposing such a radical

solution he would be the fist to put it in practice, but he

just washes his hands. Even though we know it is an ironical

essay it leaves us thinking that it is actually a very

logical solition to poverty problems, and this is because of

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the economical problems our society is going through

nowadays.

Mara Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards


No. de Cuenta. 30755014-1

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