What makes this essay so effective?

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What is particularly unusual and effective about "A Modest Proposal" is the way the author adopts the attitude that you, the reader, are such a hard-hearted, insensitive person that you will take his proposal seriously. You will not be shocked at the idea of importing Irish babies and eating them for dinner, since you have already proved yourself to be so merciless towards the Irish that this new proposal would only seem like a reasonable practical solution to a problem. However, if you are not the kind of person who would exploit poor peasants or consider having their roasted babies for dinner—then why are you allowing this situation in Ireland to continue year after year without making any protest? The effect of Swift's essay is based on his apparent assumption about the character of the person who is reading it. He is insulting us and berating us in a polite and reasonable tone. The fact that we may not be absentee landlords does not exonerate us as long as we tolerate the abuses. The fact that we may not have even known about the horrors does not exonerate us either—because we know about them after reading "A Modest Proposal."

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