Essay on Jonathan Swift and Swift

Submitted By Chat-Binzy
Words: 1004
Pages: 5

Binta Bojang
Sarah Setnes Dale
Comp. II-M
February 27, 2015
Analysis of “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift
In Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”, he discusses a solution for the problem of overpopulation in Ireland. At the time “A Modest Proposal” was introduced, babies were being produced at an exponential rate which negatively impacted Ireland’s economy. Ireland, because of the country being crowded, suffered tremendous economic problems and quickly went into debt. Swift proposed that everyone should start selling and eating babies to drastically slow down the population rate. Obviously, Swift’s suggestions are barbaric and unrealistic, making it a satire. He uses rhetorical elements in his satire including ethos, pathos, logos, and a strong voice. Swift starts off by explaining the problem of too many poor children in the streets that basically do nothing but waste money and food. He says that with his plan, “they shall on the contrary contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing, of many thousands” (Swift 503). He then continues by talking about an American friend of his that told him a well-nourished one year old is an excellent source of food no matter how it is cooked. He lists all the reasons why his plan to eat children is fool-proof. One of his reasons is that infants would be in season year round. Another reason he gives is that the skin would be excellent for gloves or boots. “The skin of which, artificially dress will make admirable gloves for ladies and summer boots for fine gentlemen” (505). He does not use the verb to mean “attire” but rather “to prepare and finish as leather” (OED 3:661). Apparently we must admire his restraint in not referring to these as kid skin gloves. In the essay, Swift appeals to ethos and pathos. Pathos is used in detail in the beginning of the proposal when Swift describes the pain and suffering of both the poor families and the ones who beg which gives more reasons for his solution to be considered. Swift’s audience is the government and society of Ireland who directly affected by the lives of pauperized children. He also appeals to ethos when he mentions his friend in America. His friend is an expert because he has had firsthand experiences with the subject. In a way Swift also becomes an expert because he has learned from his American friend and he has developed a fool-proof plan for controlling number of poor Irish children. In reality, Swift is an expert on this situation because he has lived as both rich and poor, so he knows that poor people are humans too and should be treated as such. He again appeals to pathos to express the feeling of young children and women having to participate in unlawful acts such as stealing food and being forced to beg for money and other necessities, and also the action of selling unwanted babies to lift the burden of a struggling life. He also appeals to pathos showing that there is a solution to Ireland’s problem. He gives the poor another source of income by giving them the opportunity to sell their children. In the essay, Swift says, “I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords” (507). By this he means that the rich will have a new delicacy born from pain. His intended audience is the rich. He is trying to make them realize that the poor are people, not animals. Swift also appeals to logos by giving all the positive outcomes his plan will provide. A few examples of these outcomes are: there will be less poor children to pay for and take care of, mothers will take better care of their young in order to make more money off them, and restaurants and rich landlords