Hyperbole In A Modest Proposal

Explain hyperbole and humor in A Modest Proposal. How do hyperbole and humor further enhance the satirical impact of the essay?

Hyperbole and humor further enhance the satirical impact of A Modest Proposal by highlighting the cruel treatment of poor people in Ireland through a narrator who has no empathy for anyone except the wealthy.

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In this essay, in which an unnamed speaker suggests that the poor Irish sell their babies to the rich English as a new food source, Swift seeks to draw attention to the plight of the impoverished Irish tenant farmers and inspire sympathy for them. Hyperbole and humor are both tools in the satirist's arsenal, used to shock the reader and show them the errors of their ways.

Hyperbole is the same thing as overstatement, an exaggeration of the truth made to emphasize the truth. The narrator writes of the Irish babies to be sold for food by saying, "I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children." Here, he characterizes—as a literal devouring— what the wealthy English landowners have done to their Irish tenant farmers: the landowners have charged such high rents that the poor Irish can no longer afford to pay their rents and feed their children, put clothes on...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 931 words.)

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