tablesetting complete with forks, knives, and spoons, and a baby on the plate in the center above the words "A Modest Proposal"

A Modest Proposal

by Jonathan Swift

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How would you rewrite this passage from "A Modest Proposal" in informal, formal, journalistic, archaic, and gothic styles?

"I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the common-wealth, would deserve so well of the public, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation."

Expert Answers

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To get you started on this assignment, we must first review the characteristics of the informal, formal, journalistic, archaic, and gothic styles.

The informal style of writing mimics casual, everyday speech. It may use colloquial terms, simple structures, and even dialect. So to rewrite this quote in an informal style, you might begin with "Everyone agrees that too many children are bad for the kingdom ..."

The formal style is objective and precise. It is also impersonal and often uses high-level vocabulary and complex structures. You might begin your formal rewrite with "All parties acquiesce to the fact ..."

The journalistic style is direct and focused on information. Journalists begin with a lead to summarize the key facts and then add details to support those facts. A journalistic rewrite might begin, "The kingdom is currently troubled by an overabundance of children ..."

The archaic style uses old-fashioned language and structures for the purpose of creativity or emphasis. An archaic rewrite might begin, "Hear ye, hear ye! The kingdom calls for recognition that ..."

Finally, the gothic style incorporates elements of suspense, mystery, and even terror into its language as well as archaic structures. To rewrite using the gothic, you might begin, "Their small, thin faces of these children inspire horror ..."

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