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Copy of Copy of Rhetorical Analysis of A Modest Proposal

Analyzing the rhetorical aspects of Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal

Kristy Sherrod

on 18 March 2013

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Transcript of Copy of Copy of Rhetorical Analysis of A Modest Proposal

Rhetorical Analysis of Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal Irish-born Jonathan Swift worked primarily as an essayist and satirist and is most famously known for his novel, "Gulliver's Travels," and his satirical essay known as "A Modest Proposal" written in 1729. Often refered to simply as "A Modest Proposal," "A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being a Burden on Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick [sic]" candidly suggested that the impoverished people of Ireland should consider selling their offspring to more wealthy families as sustenance. A Modest Proposal The suggestion, complete with authoritative appeals such as referencing an American acquaintance who is informed in the offspring-as-food trade, explains how certain sizes and ages of young children are palatally preferable and will sell better, thus earning the parents more money and, in turn, combating the issue of excessive early-18th Century poverty in Ireland. A Modest Proposal Brief Description of the Text: Brief Description of the Text: Brief Biography of the Author: According to Llyod Bitzer, a rhetorical situation exists when a text has 1) an exigence--more simply: an issue with which the author is discontent--, 2) an audience--those with the desire and ability to enact a change--, and 3) constraints--factors which shape the text, regardless of how limiting they are.

These three constituents are in place in "A Modest Proposal." A Modest Proposal Rhetorical Analysis: Exigence:
The poverty of many Irish people in the early 1700s appears to be the primary causation of Swift's "Modest Proposal." However, it has been argued that Swift's text aimed more toward satirizing the attitudes of the people at the time who often made proposals that were more modest but still widely considered relatively ridiculous. A Modest Proposal Rhetorical Analysis: Audience:
The use of satire blurs the ides of Swift's true audience in that he never truthfully expected any readers to consider selling or consuming children. Assuming Swift's intentions were to satirize the attitudes of the people however, the audience is then those who can affect a change in the thought processes of themselves and others. A Modest Proposal Rhetorical Analysis: Constraints:
The constraints of Swift's essay are numerous, but the most obvious and important constraints include:
Use of a print-based medium
Use of the English language
Use of satire
His personal character and credibility (ethos)
His logical proofs (logos)
His use of emotional appeals (pathos) A Modest Proposal Rhetorical Analysis: Ethos:
Once again, due to the satirical nature of the text, the ethos of the author is difficult to assess. Swift's intention appears to be to make the audience pity the impoverished Irish and to abhor the narrator. This assumption seems to fit both interpretations of Swift's overall intentions. A Modest Proposal Logos:
In referencing his supposed American friend, the narrator utilizes an argument based in reason known as "appeal to authority." Reason-based arguments--though not necessarily always logical--make up the logos of a given text. A Modest Proposal Pathos:
Viewing the text strictly how it was intended to be viewed (i.e. as a satirical essay), "A Modest Proposal" finds its pathos in every sentence. In being satirical, the essay has a constant flow of humor and slight disgust, thus emotionally impacting the reader. The imaginative impact on the reader is equally present. The idea of a culture of people selling and eating children will influence the emotions of most people. A Modest Proposal Rhetorical Analysis: Rhetorical Analysis: Rhetorical Analysis: Genre:
The genre of rhetoric in which "A Modest Propsal" best fits, is deliberative--as opposed to forensic or epideictic. Deliberative rhetoric typically deals mostly with future events, and their benefits or harms to society. By suggesting a new trend for Irish families in order to benefit overall soceity, Swift clearly intended this piece to fit into the genre of deliberative rhetoric. A Modest Proposal Rhetorical Analysis: Kairos:
The fact that Swift writes about what was, in his time, a current issue, his kairos is at a peak. Had his essay been publiched prior to or after the issue's prime, "A Modest Proposal" would have been essentially pointless and completely unimpactful. A Modest Proposal Rhetorical Analysis: The End. A Modest Proposal
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