A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

A Modest Proposal book cover
Start Your Free Trial

How does the final paragraph of the essay "A Modest Proposal" contribute to Swift's rhetorical purpose?

Expert Answers info

teachertaylor eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write1,505 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

In "A Modest Proposal," Swift develops his argument through satire.  Swift's purpose is to criticize the English response to the severe poverty in Ireland that occurred as a result of the draught in the early 1700s.  Throughout the essay, Swift has employed rhetorical devices that are commonly used in satire such as irony.  In the final paragraph, Swift uses litotes ("I have not the least personal interest"), a form of understatement, which on the surface adds to the humor of the piece but at the heart of the essay really suggests that Swift is greatly concerned by the plight of the Irish and the response of the landowners. 

In the final lines of the paragraph, Swift continues his use of the absurd to relate back to the absurd scenario that he has created in the satire.  The situation metaphorically represents Swift's critique of English landowners, and serves as the final...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 485 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write35,413 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Doug Stuva eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write1,751 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial