Analysis Of ' Swift 's A Modest Proposal '

1546 Words7 Pages
Madeleine Roepe
Swift and Blake’s Use of Irony and Persona In Satire
In the context of political questions and social activism, irony, exaggeration, humor, and ridicule are all valuable rhetorical tools to expose faults and make a point (New Oxford American Dictionary). Both Jonathan Swift and William Blake confront social systems of oppression in their literary careers, most notably with A Modest Proposal and Songs of Innocence respectively. Swift’s A Modest Proposal is an address to the wealthy English and appeal to the consumerism that drives economic exploitation that causes inequity and poverty. Due to the tense political climate and potential ramifications of his criticism, Swift published the essay anonymously and therefore had to create a persona within the essay to speak for him. Swift uses this unique narrative persona to ironically confront this oppressor class. Blake also makes rhetorical use of the persona and irony to make ideological points but in a noticeably different way; the speaker he creates uses the voice of those being exploited by English social systems rather than a privileged observer. In his poem “The Chimney Sweeper,” Blake adopts the voice of a young boy sold into labor. His discussion of mistreatment is more psychological in nature, and contains a complexity considerably absent in Swift’s writing. Each perspective has its merits, but which is the more effective means of satire?
In his opening, Swift’s speaker misleads readers
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