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Compare the persuasive techniques and the development of the argument in 'Old Major's speech' and Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal.

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Introduction

Compare the persuasive techniques and the development of the argument in 'Old Major's speech' and Jonathan Swift's 'A Modest Proposal'. Although 'Animal Farm' and 'A Modest Proposal' were written over two hundred years apart, and one is non-fiction and the other is not, there are distinct similarities between the two. Both of the pieces are political, with 'Animal Farm' based on the Russian Revolution, and 'A Modest Proposal' based on the situation of homelessness in Ireland. Also, both of the pieces are satirical. Animal Farm ridicules the ordinary Russian people for being gullible, and 'A Modest Proposal' mocks politicians who ignore sensible suggestions and come up with extreme ones. In the build up to his speech, Old Major first clears his throat, to gain all of the animals' attention. The fact that all he has to do is clear his throat to do this, gives the impression that he is authoritative, and in control. We are given the idea that the other animals respect him. In the following paragraph, Old Major mentions a dream, but he says "I will come to the dream later". The dream is the whole reason the meeting has been called, and by saying that he will talk about it later holds all of the animals in suspense. They are willing to listen to what he has to say, to hear about the dream. He also mentions his imminent death, which will gain the audience's sympathy, and again make them listen. To guarantee that the animals are going to listen to him, he says that he will "pass onto to you such wisdom as I have acquired". ...read more.

Middle

In the next few paragraphs he hints even more at the solution, by saying that instead of the babies needing food, clothing and nourishment, they shall "contribute to the feeding, and partly clothing of many thousands." This is similar to Old Major, who hints early on in his speech at the answer to the animals' problems. He again uses more formal language, like "computation" and "solar year" to make himself sound clever. In contrast to this he uses emotive language to rouse personal emotions in the reader: "That horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children." He also uses statistics to back up his claims about the situation in Ireland: "There may be about two-hundred thousand couples whose wives are breeders." All the time that Swift is talking, he is backing up his arguments and showing that he has researched the problem: "I am assured by our merchants." This is in contrast to Old Major's Speech, as he doesn't back up his argument with facts and figures, but just relies on the audience believing what he is saying. Swift backs up his argument, by dismissing other ideas about how to deal with the problem: "We can neither employ them...they can seldom pick up a lively hood by stealing." Swift finally outlines his proposal, saying that some children should be kept for breeding, and the others should be eaten: "A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends." Although his proposal is very shocking, he has calm tone of voice, and even begins to offer recipes: "Seasoned with a little pepper or salt." ...read more.

Conclusion

and then answers them for them. It is an indirect way of telling them what to think. Jonathan Swift asks "The question, therefore, is how this number shall be reared and provided for?" This is the only question that Swift asks his audience though. Questions draw the reader in, and make them feel like they are involved. Swift is telling people that he is right, so he does not want people to think other things. Old Major is only suggesting things, but his questions are hinting to the audience that he is right. By using exclamations, Old Major makes his speech seem dramatic; "No comrades! A thousand times no!" He can make certain parts of his speech seem more important, and make people listen by using exclamations. Jonathan Swift also does this in 'A Modest Proposal': "...murdering their bastard children; alas!" Again though, Swift uses a lot less exclamation marks than Old Major. This is mainly because his piece is meant to be formal. Both Old Major and Swift use alliteration in the pieces to make themselves sound stylish and eloquent. In one part of his speech, Old Major says "... as sure as I see this straw ..." The repetition of the 's' makes certain words in that sentence stand out, making his message more clear. Swift says "Four females". Although Old Major's speech and 'A Modest Proposal' were written over two hundred years apart, they both use very similar techniques and development of their argument to get their point across. Both of the pieces are politically based and satirical, both use formal and emotive language, differing sentence types and structures and in sparse amounts, alliteration. This makes their arguments fairly similar. Tim Barber 11/1 ...read more.

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