A Modest Proposal

Possibly the most famous example of satire is Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” Published in 1729 to address hunger in England-ruled Ireland, Swift’s essay screams for change. First, read about Swift. (http://knarf.english.upenn.edu/People/swift.html) Then, open and print a copy of
“A Modest Proposal.” (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1080/1080-h/1080-h.htm)

Your Assignment

After reading Swift’s essay, please answer the following questions:

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  1. Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal” under a pseudonym, so who is the speaker here?
  2. Discuss the tone of the piece. Pull examples from the text to support your discussion.
  3. As you know, effective argumentation appeals to logic (logos), ethics (ethos), and emotions (pathos). Please discuss how Swift uses all three appeals and how these tools impact his purpose.
  4. Explain the irony in Swift’s title, “A Modest Proposal.”
  5. Where does this essay fit on the continuum (Horatian to Juvenalian)? Explain and support your position.
  6. Why is “A Modest Proposal” an effective satire? What techniques does Swift use effectively? Support your answers with examples from the text.
  7. Swift enumerates six reasons why his proposal will work. Discuss how these paragraphs impact his purpose.
  8. Toward the end of the essay, locate the paragraph that begins “I can think of no one objection that will possibly be raised…” How is this paragraph different from the rest of Swift’s essay?
  9. Re-read the final paragraph. How does this paragraph contribute to Swift’s purpose?
  10. When “A Modest Proposal” was originally published, some readers were outraged by Swift’s proposal. At what point is it clear to you that “A Modest Proposal” is a satire?



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