A Modest Proposal

Today we will revisit a few rhetorical figures and read a famous text.

A Modest Proposal (AMP) by Jonathan Swift

  1. What is the problem identified in the first two paragraphs? What persuasive techniques are used to engage the reader?
  2. Find at least three examples of irony in AMP. What effect does this technique have on the essay? What purpose do these examples serve?
  3. Swift does offer more realistic solutions to the problems in Ireland. Find the place in the text where he does this. Quote three of the possible solutions he offers. Why do you think Swift puts in these realistic solutions?
  4. How do satire and irony help Swift accomplish what a more conventional approach to persuasion would not?

6 reaktioner till “A Modest Proposal”

  1. 1. In the first two paragraphs the writer presents the problem of beggars, of how professed beggar mothers walk with multiple infants, all dressed in rags asking for a small donation. How these infants do not turn into anything useful for the kingdom at an older age, instead they either become thieves or travel to the New World to sell themselves as servants. The writer persuades the reader by making them feel sorry for the women, and therefore increasing our chances of agreeing to anything said later.

    2. He mentions that his proposal will stop the horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children that unfortunately happens too frequently. Hinting towards that those children will be saved, but according to his proposal, they will be turned into a stew.


  2. 1. The problem identified in the first two paragraphs is that many people beg in the streets because they are not having enough money and neither the possibility to obtain food. It is a melancholy object to those who walk by and it builds a bad atmosphere in the town of Dublin.


  3. 1 . The mothers are forced to fight for the pretender of the Spain or sell themselves to the Barbadoes to get money and poor children living in Ireland alone. The techniques Jonathan used was emotion and a description of the country to make us feel sorry for them.

    2 . He mentions like for instance that his proposal will stop the horrible practice of the women murdering their children unfortunately happens again and again. He also said that he was going to save the children, but according to his game plan they will be turned to freaking pie.


  4. 2. The whole idea of the text is ironic because he pretends to care and offer modest solutions to the problems but it is in fact the opposite. He tells us that the poor could get rid of their children by selling them to the rich so the children could be used as food. The narrator speaks about what a horrific act it is that mothers murder their bastard babies and the proceeds to tell us what a great use the skin of the children is for making gloves.


  5. The problem he identifies is that Ireland is struck by great famine. And the people is therefore forced to use underhanded methods in order to survive, such as burglary and theft. Many also resort to begging, which he describes as a big problem.
    The ”persuasive” methods he used was making use of the emotions of the reader, as well as explaining what state the country was in, which would make the reader sympathize.

    Find at least three examples of irony in AMP. What effect does this technique have on the essay? What purpose do these examples serve?
    One instance of irony is that he says that his proposal will prevent voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of mothers murdering their own bastard children. What he’s essentially saying in this, is that his proposal will save the children in question. While his proposal is literally using children as a source of food and clothing.



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