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Do you believe that Jonathan Swift's method of rhetoric in "A Modest Proposal" is...

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mjm3902 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 12, 2011 at 12:21 AM via web

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Do you believe that Jonathan Swift's method of rhetoric in "A Modest Proposal" is effective?

 

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cetaylorplfd | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted July 12, 2011 at 1:05 AM (Answer #1)

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Certainly this is a subjective question, but I argue that Swift's rhetorical method in "A Modest Proposal" is effective for the purpose of criticizing the English government and raising awareness of the plight of Irish farmers and the working poor.  In the essay, Swift uses satire to develop the absurd situation of people selling their children as food.  Swift develops this situation to criticize the negative stereotypes that were commonly held of Irish Catholic people in the early 1700s.  Swift attempts to show that people cannot be treated like animals which is how he sees the treatment of poor farmers under wealthy landlords who do nothing to help when drought hits Ireland.  So Swift's rhetoric is effective in making such criticism and making people aware of it.  It is possible that an ultimate goal is to have landlords change their attitude and policies regarding farmers; however, this change would not come as a direct result of the essay.  Much of Swift's political writing ended up being censored at the time of publication because its scathing critique angered government officials.

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