A modest Proposal

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A Modest Proposal” Satirical Essay- 2XM
Objective: To create your own Modest Proposal, ala Swift.

  1. Choose a social institution or problem that you could write a satirical essay about. Some suggestions include politics, school, fashion, relationships, or religion; however, you should narrow your topic to something very specific, like overpopulation. Be careful about the topic you select and your manners. For example, if you are seriously encouraging hatred for or violence against another race, religion, nationality, or belief system, your essay will be inappropriate. State the problem in the first paragraph.

  1. Come up with an outrageous solution to your problem. Much like Swift’s suggestion that we eat babies to solve the problem of starving children, you must come up with a suggestion that is over the top and totally impractical, but treat it as the most rational solution ever.

  1. Remember how Swift outlines or enumerates the advantages to his solution of eating babies? Include an enumerated list of at least three advantages to your solution and explain them.

  1. Remember how Swift brought up good solutions but insisted that they would not work? Include two to three realistic solutions to your problem that could work in the real world. You want to call attention to a problem you want to be solved, so without realistic solutions, your essay is pointless. However, in the essay, you will be treating these good solutions as weak or ridiculous solutions.

  1. Include at least five satirical devices. Highlight and label these devices in your final draft.

  1. At the bottom of your draft, include a typed paragraph explaining whether or not your essay is horatian or juvenalian, and then explain why. Then explain the overall meaning and purpose of your satire, including an explanation of at least three of your satirical devices and their rhetorical effect/ purpose in the essay. What are you trying to accomplish?

Please use MLA FORMAT!!
Modest Proposal/ Satirical Essay Rubric- 2XM



(15-20 points)


(10-14 points)


(0-9 points)

Problem and Satirical Solution

Satirical essay clearly defines problem with a sense of urgency at the beginning of the essay and then provides a logical and outrageous, satirical solution to the problem.

Satirical essay begins by stating the problem and then provides a solution, but the satirical solution may not be as creative or logically connected to the problem at hand.

Satirical essay begins by mentioning a problem, but the problem is either too vague/ not narrowed for argumentation OR the solution to the problem is not satirical in nature—literal instead.

Advantages to the Satirical Solution


Realistic Solutions

The essay outlines and explains three advantages to the satirical solution that are logical consequences of the satirical solution. The essay also contains at least two realistic solutions that could be literally used to solve the problem, but the writer denounces these in the name of satire—all in an effective way.

The essay outlines and explains three advantages to the satirical solution, but the explanations may lack in thoroughness or logical connection to the satirical solution. The essay also contains at least two realistic solutions, but they may not be dismissed as ridiculous to meet the purpose of the satirical essay.

The essay may NOT include either all three required advantages or two realistic solutions, OR the advantages realistic solutions may not fit the satirical solution at all.

Satirical Devices

The essay effectively and correctly uses at least five satirical devices to persuade the reader. The devices are not randomly stuck into the essay, but they contribute to the overall satirical effect of the essay. All five devices are highlighted and correctly labeled.

The essay contains the five required satirical devices, but they may not be used as effectively as the top category—some may seem more forced and “stuck in” than others. The devices are still highlighted and labeled correctly.

The essay may be missing some of the five required devices OR the devices are not highlighted and labeled OR the devices are not labeled correctly. Devices are used at random and serve no rhetorical purpose whatsoever.

Explanatory Paragraph

The essay includes an explanatory paragraph in which the writer has explained the satirical nature and purpose of the essay in an effective and thorough way.

The essay includes an explanatory paragraph in which the writer has explained the satirical nature and purpose of the essay but lacks in overall thoroughness.

The paragraph may be missing OR the paragraph does not meet the requirements.

Grammar/ Editing/ MLA

The satirical essay contains little to no grammar/ editing errors, no sentence construction errors, and no spelling errors. The essay has been thoroughly edited and revised. The essay is printed in proper MLA format.

The satirical essay contains few grammar/ editing errors, maybe one sentence construction error, and no spelling errors. The essay shows evidence of editing, but may lack in overall thoroughness—some misuse of second person may be apparent. The essay uses MLA format but may contain minor errors.

The satirical essay contains major grammar/ editing errors, sentence construction errors, or spelling errors—lack of editing is obvious. The student may not have used MLA format at all.

TOTAL: ____________/ 100

Outline- Modest Proposal

  • Use 5 satirical devices.- HIGHLIGHT & LABEL THESE!

  • Label your satire as Juvenalian OR Horatian

  • 1st or 3rd person- NO “YOU”

Paragraph 1: Statement of problem

  • Who does it affect?

  • What’s the issue?

  • When and where is it happening?

  • Why is it happening?

Paragraphs 2 and 3: Outrageous/ Satirical Solution to the problem

  • What is the solution?

  • How will it work?

  • Why will it work?

  • List and EXPLAIN at least 3 advantages to the problem using enumeration



Paragraph 4: Realistic Solutions

  • What is being done, will be done, or could be done in real life to solve the problem?

  • Give 2 to 3 realistic solutions BUT discount their credibility- explain why they will NOT work. Your goal is to simultaneously denounce these realistic options while secretly hoping people will take them into consideration as real life solutions—especially now that you have the reader’s attention!

Paragraph 5: Conclusion

  • Restate the problem and solution

  • Summarize why it’s logical

  • Connect to the reader


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