Swift uses an extensive metaphor throughout A Modest Proposal to relate devouring resources to (literally) eating children. The affluent have already devoured Irish soil, so it's no wonder that they turn to Irish children to satisfy their need.
A metaphor is a figure of speech in which one thing is used to stand for another, related thing. In Swift's time, people believed that what was eaten or consumed became that individual's character. As you can see by reading A Modest Proposal, this belief inspired Swift to create a story about someone who proposes (i.e., offers) that they eat children because doing so would improve their own character.
Swift employs several techniques to make his point through the metaphor clear.
Swift constructs a character that appears worried and sympathetic to the poor while agreeing with and associating with Ireland's ruling class. When the speaker exposes his "simple plan" to eat children in order to efficiently address poverty and overpopulation, the reader's trust in him swiftly dwindles. Swift uses hyperbole to make his point without being offensive or trivializing the subject at hand.
Modest means "referring to something small or limited; not extravagant;" and proposal means "a suggestion or idea proposed for consideration;" or "an informal written request." A modest proposal is one that does not ask too much of others nor itself. It is not an invitation to grand theft or cannibalism.
Rhetorical analysis involves studying how writers use language to influence readers into accepting their points of view or actions. In this case, the speaker uses irony to make his point without explicitly stating it. The reader knows what kind of plan he has cooked up because it is told to them directly rather than implied through descriptions or actions. By isolating words like "modest" and "proposal" from their usual contexts, Swift is able to generate sympathy for his character even though he is describing eating children.
Through hyperbole and irony, this essay demonstrates that William Swift was able to convince readers that his modest proposal was not only acceptable but necessary as well.
He produced "A Modest Proposal" in an attempt to persuade the Irish Parliament to ameliorate the poor's plight. Swift utilized the image of devouring children as a metaphor for what he considered as poor exploitation, such as landlords charging exorbitant rents. The essay created a sensation when it was published in 1729.
Swift proposed that the government adopt a policy of providing for the subsistence of the poor by selling all of the children born into poverty's family line. He argued that this would be more efficient than existing relief programs because no one could object to his or her own child being eaten.
In order to make his idea believable, Swift offered some empirical evidence to support his claim. He cited statistics showing that many children were being abandoned by their parents because they could not afford to feed them. He also pointed out that many poor people were so desperate that they even sold their children into slavery.
Swift's suggestion generated much debate it caused such an uproar that it is said that the conversation on Dublin streets stopped at night while politicians talked about it during office hours. The essay had an immediate impact on political discourse and changed the way British politicians viewed the issue of poverty. Before this time, most governments around Europe provided minimal if any relief for their poor citizens. But after this event, some countries began to think about ways to alleviate poverty among their people.
Swift amplifies society's politics to the point of blatant ridiculousness in his odd narrative, A Modest Proposal. Swift exaggerates in this article, claiming that the only way to save Ireland from poverty and overpopulation is to murder the children of impoverished families. This would "clear the way for the production of more children," which would then be available for adoption by "wealthy parents." The proposal itself is also exaggerated; it suggests that if enough rich people adopted children, there would be no more poor people left in Ireland to suffer from its problems.
Swift was not being serious when he proposed this scheme. Rather, he was attacking the political system of his time, where the only means of achieving change was through elections or other violent means. He wanted to show how ineffective these methods were by presenting them as something horrible that would inevitably happen if they were not changed first. By doing so, he was able to get his message across without being censored or losing his job.
In conclusion, exaggeration is when you go beyond what is true to make a point. It is used by authors to get attention for their articles or books, or politicians to win votes. Whether someone uses exaggeration or not can be determined by whether they are being serious or not. For example, if someone makes a suggestion like Swift's Modest Proposal out of anger instead of thinking it through carefully, it shows that they did not think seriously about what they were saying.
After all, Swift is suggesting that Irish people begin selling their children for sustenance. That's about as far from humble as it gets. So, by calling it a modest idea, he is being ironic—trying to appear reasonable when he knows he isn't.
The pamphlet, disguised as an economic dissertation, recommends that the country alleviate Irish poverty by killing the children of the Irish poor and selling them as food to affluent English landlords. Swift's suggestion is a scathing critique of England's legal and economic exploitation of Ireland.
Swift published "A Modest Proposal" in 1729. The essay was a success, becoming one of Britain's most read books of the time. Lord Chesterfield called it "a very remarkable piece of writing." There are reports of people singing songs based on the poem when they visited Swift at his home in Dublin.
Two years after its publication, the book was banned in Ireland. It took another 200 years before a similar report was made by U2 about their song "Sunday Bloody Sunday".
Swift used his influence as dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, to have the book banned again. But it had already become a popular topic for poets, writers, and artists. Sir Alexander Pope included a version of the poem in his collection of political satires titled "The Dunciad".
Swift also influenced the work of Charles Dickens who used him as one of his main sources for characterizing Ireland in his novels.