Rhetorical Devices Used In A Modest Proposal

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In the satirical short story, “A Modest Proposal,” Jonathan Swift depicts the immoral treatment of the Irish by the imperial power, Britain. The 18th century brought great frustrations to Ireland in that the people were being oppressed by imperialism, which led to poverty and hunger. Swift satirically proposes a solution for Ireland’s problems by using a variety of rhetorical techniques: twisted humor, irony, and metaphor. Swift suggests that the only way to save Ireland from overpopulation and poverty is to kill the children of the poor families and serve them to the nobility of Ireland. Swift goes so far as to think of recipes and ways to make the skin into gloves and handbags. He states, “Those who are more thrifty may flay the carcass,…show more content…
While the poor people of Ireland continue to breed, the rich will have elaborate feasts and dinner parties with the meat of peasant’s children. The idea of the poor raising food for the rich as a solution to poverty is ludicrous as well as highly ironic. The rich will continue to enjoy the luxuries of the upper class such as wealth, power, and fine dining, while the peasants raise their meat for them. The upper class is undoubtedly the British that rule over Ireland, and by eating their oppressed they show their power and superiority. Swift is commenting that British control in Ireland is as treacherous as people eating their own babies as means to survive. Swift utilizes irony again in the title of his essay “A Modest Proposal.” Proposing that society should turn to cannibalism as a solution to poverty is anything but modest. However, by asserting from the beginning of the essay that the proposal that he presents is a modest and logical solution, the reader is encouraged to recognize the irrationality of Swift’s suggestions and reevaluate what would indeed be a politically acceptable solution to the
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