In Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal," Swift argues that the Irish might improve their national economy and poverty if they sell their children as food for those who are well to do. It is important to note that Swift, as an Englishman, has a certain perspective towards the Irish as a whole, and that is particularly that English people are better off than the Irish. One can plainly see, however, that Swift's use of numerous amounts of rhetorical devices in his solutions to the Irish prove that he is intending to only engage in playful humor regarding the topic of their current economic position, and can be seen through his use of irony, exaggeration, and understatement.
One of the rhetorical devices used by Jonathan Swift in "A Modest Proposal" was irony. Irony is irony that is used when someone says something that actually has a different or opposite meaning. In one of Swift's resolutions, he says that a great idea for reducing poverty in Ireland would be if Irish babies of those who were poor and in poverty were given to the rich upper class to feast on. This solution is obviously ironic, because if the whole idea were to get rid of the poverty in Ireland, then it would make sense if the children of the rich upper class were given to those in poverty as food. This way, starvation for the poor would not be an issue. Therefore, the use of irony in "A Modest Proposal" was to show that since the wrong or complete opposite idea was put up, everyone should understand that none of what is being suggested should actually be taken literally.
Another rhetorical device that was present throughout Swift's essay was exaggeration. Exaggeration can be defined as the use of an overstatement, and an example of this is when Swift proposes recipes and ways to make the skin of the children into materials such as gloves and bags. This is a use of exaggeration because he is pointing out that since the people of Ireland are in deep poverty, with numerous families that don't have enough clothes, an easy and efficient way to cope with this problem would be to use the skin of the children they have already cooked and eaten.