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Brandon Derek Michael Dothager 6th Hour AP English Monday, September 12, 2011

A Modest Proposal Analysis


Children, tasty little creatures arent they? Well according to Jonathon Swift in A Modest Proposal, they are the perfect meat and potatoes of any meal. Of course, Swift does not actually suggest eating children, but rather uses the absurd idea to parallel the absurd treatment of the Irish by the British government. Using parallelism such as this, paired with other rhetorical devices such as diction and irony, Swift sends a scathing satire across the Isle of Mann into the London Parliament. Using the irony of the entire situation, Swift adds his own ironic twists. He speaks of his proposal in a generously optimistic tone; yet he couldnt be less skeptical about the situation. His use of irony highlights the treatment of Catholics in Ireland. Swift uses ironic optimism, stating that he isnt bothered by the rotting and death of Catholic homeless, because it is to be expected. The absurdity of his irony emphasizes the lack of empathy on behalf of British politicians. Breaking down the entire satire into simpler parts, Swift slowly changes the readers perception of the events with his methodical diction. Referring to new mothers as dams, as one would call livestock used for breeding, Swift helps to convert the readers mind to a more economical, farmer-like state. By using mathematical diction, such as analyzing that onequarter of all of the children should be males, Swift further illustrates the satirical notion that children should be more similar in use to livestock for the poor Irish Catholics. Swifts diction serves the purpose of connecting the reader to the idea that children are livestock by referring to children in livestock terms.

Brandon Derek Michael Dothager 6th Hour AP English Monday, September 12, 2011 Ultimately, A Modest Proposal is one giant satire using the rhetorical device known as parallelism. The United Kingdom, split between the patriarchal England and the subordinate Irish, has its own parent-abused child relationship. Swift satirically parallels this with his own proposal that, instead of raising children properly (as should the British do when raising government in Ireland), Irish Catholics further the notion of British mercantilism and raise children solely for food and profit. Swifts entire modest proposal is actual an absurd satire using parallelism to pick apart British mercantilism, aided by diction and irony. Ironically, A Modest Proposal is, in fact, an attack on preposterous British policies. Not so modest, is it?

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