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Explain hyperbole and humor in "A Modest Proposal."   How do hyperbole and humor...

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gwn14 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 27, 2008 at 2:19 PM via web

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Explain hyperbole and humor in "A Modest Proposal."   How do hyperbole and humor further enhance the satric impact of the essa?

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adrigon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted October 27, 2008 at 5:40 PM (Answer #1)

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The entire essay is hyperbolic, from his description of the squalid conditions of the peasants and their anticipated reaction to the proposal, to the narrator's cold detachment to the actual plight of these people, which is assumed to be the callousness of the upper class and the backlash of political posturing.

The essay is satirical of the type of deranged logic that comes from social detachment from people of lower social classes. His proposal is to eat children, and yet he claims that a great benefit of this is "that it will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas! too frequent among us! sacrificing the poor innocent babes I doubt more to avoid the expense than the shame, which would move tears and pity in the most savage and inhuman breast."

So murder by the state is OK, because it benefits the upper class and relieves the hunger of the lower class, but things like emotions and moral obligations are not seen as a quality belonging to the lower class, so their abortions are little more than the act of savages.

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