Assignment #2: Essay Analysis “In Search of a Modest Proposal” by Fred Stenson
Fred Stenson’s essay “In Search of a Modest Proposal” borrows part of its title from a great literary work titled “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift. From the writings in the box on the side of the page we see that Stenson is a writer and has a partner who is a teacher, therefore you would expect an essay with a sympathetic viewpoint to academia. Stenson’s thesis is not stated but implied in the first paragraph where he expresses “gratitude” to the education system and how he “defends” teachers who were under attack. It is not until the fourth paragraph that you realize that he is using irony and satire to show his dismay at the deterioration of our current education system and in particular the curriculum and how its being taught in our public schools.
Stenson uses an informal style of evaluation to develop his thesis as he provides an analysis of the way his daughter is being taught to write a personal essay. He leads the reader paragraph by paragraph through his attempt to help his daughter write a personal essay. Stenson uses humor to contrast how he was taught to write an essay and how his daughter is being taught “a formula” instead of a ‘great literary form’ to persuade and argue. Examples of “the formula” are developed as he works his way from topic selection by a group vs. her personal opinion, his daughters’ arguments are on a piece of paper with collaboration from others in her group, and her writing using repition and transitional words and bright descriptive language. At the end of the first section, Stenson reiterates his daughter just wants to follow the formula so she can pass and truly doesn’t particularly a care about making a personal statement.
The second half of the essay is transitioned and developed with humor and satire where Stenson pokes fun both himself and the teacher calling her a pleasant “able-seeing” woman and himself saying he...