Manipulating the Inured Reader in "A Modest Proposal"
Jesse Bull '05, English 171,Sages, Satirists, and New Journalists, Brown University, Autumn 2003
In "A Modest Proposal," Swift skillfully manipulates his reader to develop certain expectations and levels of comfort in order to surpass them. After the reader has become inured to the idea of eating babies, Swift deftly throws in an addendum. The following passage displays his effective use of abrupt changes in rhythm and a command of tone that can shift within a single sentence.
Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flea the carcass; the skin of which, artificially dressed, will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen. [p.3]
1. How do these two clauses juxtapose effectively (in tone, in shifting targets of satire, etc.)?
2. How does this passage manipulate the reader in relation to the previous passage considering issues of economy?
3. How does Swift manage to transform the grotesque image of flaying a baby's carcass (and eating babies in general) into such a comically appealing and playful one?
4. Is the tactic of surprise lost with post-inaugural readings?
Last modified 9 February 2005