A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

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What are some rhetorical devices in "A Modest Proposal"?

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Rhetorical devices are persuasive devices. To understand the rhetorical devices Swift is using, it is therefore helpful to understand what Swift is trying to persuade his readers to do.

As a high ranking clergyman in Ireland, Swift was concerned with the plight of the poor and increasingly frustrated that year after year reasonable, mild, and doable solutions to the problem of acute poverty were brushed aside by the people with the power to make changes. Swift wanted to see starving mothers and children fed, tax burdens on the poor decreased, rents lowered, and decent job opportunities created. However, perceiving that sensible, rationale arguments were going nowhere, Swift determined to try a new approach.

Central to this approach is hyperbole or exaggeration. Swift hoped that by creating a morally clueless narrator with a completely outrageous solution for the problem of poverty in Ireland, he would shock people and gain their attention. Ultimately, he hoped that the essay would...

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