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A Modest Proposal Essay

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In Jonathan Swift’s satire, “A Modest Proposal”, Swift writes about the starving people of Ireland in the early 1700’s. He makes a wild and absurd proposal to help remedy the problems of overpopulation and poverty. Swift wants to make a political statement by using the “children” as satire to grasp the attention of the audience - the English people, the Irish politicians and the rich – and make them aware of the political, moral, and social problems. In “A Modest Proposal”, Swift’s arguments are presented effectively by using pathos (emotional appeal), ethos (ethics and values), and logos (logic reasoning and facts).
Swift begins his argument by stating his view on the situation and displaying his annoyance. He states, "It is a
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Swift obviously wants the readers to realize that he has studied the problem for a very long time. He even confides from a commendable person about the proposal, thus stating, “A very worthy person, a true lover of his country, and whose virtues I highly esteem, was lately pleased in discoursing on this matter to offer a refinement upon my scheme” (Swift 3). By referencing experiences of friends and acquaintances, Swift asserts that his proposal is indeed feasible and can be applied to remedy Ireland’s economy and social ills. He writes, “But with due deference to so excellent a friend… my American acquaintance assured me, from frequent experience…” (Swift 3). Another one, “But in order to justify my friend, he confessed that this expedient was put into his head by the famous Psalmanazar… who came from thence to London above twenty years ago… that in his country when any young person happened to be put to death, the executioner sold the carcass to persons of quality as a prime dainty” (Swift 3). Likewise, from a grave author, an eminent French physician, who says that infant’s flesh are more plentiful in March because there are more children born in Roman Catholic countries due to the fish diet that they eat during Lenten season (Swift 2). Swift undoubtedly uses ethos to show the readers that he actually gathered facts from people
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