A modest proposal jonathan swift
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“A Modest Proposal” Jonathan Swift. 17 th century: Oliver Cromwell , English Prime Minister, set out to convert Catholics to Protestantism. Rampage across land –burning and massacring – left destruction and poverty. Penal Laws enforced:. Catholics are not permitted to… own land vote

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“A Modest Proposal” Jonathan Swift

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“A Modest Proposal”Jonathan Swift

17th century:Oliver Cromwell, English Prime Minister, set out to convert Catholics to Protestantism.

Rampage across land –burning and massacring –left destruction and poverty.

Penal Laws enforced:

  • Catholics are not permitted to…

    • own land

    • vote

    • marry a Protestant

    • join the armed forces

    • bare arms

    • be educated abroad

Irish Catholics reduced to impotent servants

18th century:

English landlords owned much of Ireland’s property.

They charged outrageous rent

England imposed high taxes on Ireland

English had negative attitude toward Roman Catholics

In the late 1720’s, starvation was widespread in Ireland.

  • Irish harvest had been poor for years

  • Farmers couldn’t pay rent demanded by English landlords

  • Beggars and starving children filled the streets

As you listen…

Record answer to the following in your Log:

  • What is the Problem?

    2. What is the proposed Solution?

    3. What is your reaction?


  • MODEST= conservative, simple,

  • PROPOSAL= suggestion, plan, idea

    Explain the relationship between the title and the content of this essay.


*a literary device used to ridicule or make fun of human vice or weakness, often with the intent of correcting, or changing, the subject of the satiric attack

Irony permeates satire:

Verbal Irony



Faulty Logic


  • Verbal IronyTo use words that are the opposite of those one might expect to read

  • Exaggeration: To enlarge, increase, or represent something beyond normal bounds so that it becomes ridiculous and its faults can be seen.

  • Understatement: To downplay event/situation to make it seem less important/serious than it is

  • Faulty Logic: To misuse logic to arrive at the conclusion author/narrator prefers rather than one of sound basis

Persuasive Techniques~

Swift’s proposal to end poverty in Ireland, though satiric, employs strong persuasive elements:

Ethos~ appeal based on the character of the speaker. An ethos-driven document relies on the reputation of the author



Persuasive Techniques~

Logos~ appeal based on logic or reason



Persuasive Techniques~

Pathos~ appeal to emotions



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