Literary Devices Used In A Modest Proposal By Jonathan Swift

762 words - 3 pages

Jonathan Swift, a well-known author, in his essay “A Modest Proposal,” implies that the Irish people should eat children so that they can better their chances of survival. Swift supports his implication by describing how his proposal will have many advantages such as, eliminating papists, bringing great custom to taverns, and inducing marriages. He comes up with an absurd proposal to eat and sell the children to the elite so the Irish can have a brighter future. His purpose is to show that the Irish deserve better treatment from the English. Throughout his essay, Swift uses sarcasm, satire, and irony.
Swift uses sarcasm to make his argument that the Irish should not be ignored by the English. In 1729 Ireland was hit with a potato famine and the commoners were the ones who suffered the most. The elite were never left hungry and did not suffer like the rest; therefore, they took little or no importance about what happen to the commoners and how they lived. He states, “It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and importuning every passenger for an alms.” (408). From this quotation the reader can see one of two things, whether it is hard for Swift to see homeless people every day, or the lifestyle of the beggars. One can first make the assumption that he is attempting to feel the pain of the beggars when really he is not content with living alongside them. Although Swift is not content with living among side commoners, he cannot stand to see them suffer and live the way they do.
As well as using sarcasm, Swift also uses irony to show the elite that Ireland is in need of help. Although his intentions are to help the commoners, Swift portrays a sense of not caring about the lower class and only thinking about the elite and how they will benefit from eating and buying children. He states, “And the money will circulate among...

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