"The Writing on the Wall"

Persuasion and Satire

(trimester three: week three through twelve)

Instructor: Jaimie Crawford

This unit studies rhetoric and persuasion, first with the subject matter of modern British poetry and nonfiction, and second, with the subject matter of British satire. Students will first be asked to take part in an analysis of vehicle: studying a poem and an essay on the same theme, they will debate orally with classmates and also by persuasive exposition which vehicle is more effective in addressing the common theme. The second half of the unit addresses the genre of satire. Students will analyze the satires of Swift, Pope, Orwell, and Huxley as well as writing one of their own.
  • Time Allotment: Ten Weeks
  • Texts: Norton's English Literature, H&B's Reading for Writers, Orgel's Vocab List.
  • Unit Structure :
    Week One: Overview of Poem/Essay Debate;
    RFW “Introduction to Argumentation” p.551;
    group meeting time; library time
    Week Two: Groups One, Two, Three
    RFW: “Obstacles to Clear Thinking” p. 553
    Week Three: Groups Four, Five, Six
    RFW: “Introduction to Logic” p. 561
    Week Four: Groups Seven, Eight, Nine
    Week Five: Essays due; Test on poems&essays
    Overview of Satire; Norton p. 819-841;

    Dryden's “From a Discourse...Satire” N. p.880
    Week Six: Third trimester reading:
    Orwell's 1984 vs. Huxley's BNW ;
    Discussion; AP essay and Multiple Choice
    Week Seven: Swift “Modest Proposal” N. p. 1048
    AP Essay and Multiple Choice;
    Pope's “Rape of the Lock” N. p.1075
    Week Eight: Gullivers Travels; film,
    read Books 1&4 by the end of the week.
    N. p.905; your satire due.
    Week Nine: Review for AP; AP EXAM
    Week Ten: Work on Websites
  • Writing Assignments:

*Due on the Fridays of Weeks Five and Eight.

*Vocabulary Requirement: Orgel Words 526-775: 25 words per week on vocab quiz each Friday. Vocab Bee on Words 776-900

*Writing Prerequisites:
a. clear thesis (read “The Thesis” by Sheridan Baker RFW p. 142)
b. logical organization (read “How to Write Clearly” RFW p. 142;

“WritingSuccessful Paragraphs“RFW p.234)
c. correct grammar (see Strunk and White Online)
d. sound sentence structure (see Strunk and White Online)
e. interest (read “How to Write Narration” RFW p. 270

“How to Write a Description” RFW p. 300)

*Essay Grading: AP rubric will be used whenever applicable.

  • Relating AP Essays: Students will take one three hour practice (60 mins of Multiple Choice and 3 40minute essays) exam during second trimester in preparation for the exam in May. They will have an additional three in class AP essays during this ten week unit.
  • Evaluation: 30%: AP Essays in Class; 30%: Research Paper Assignments; 20% Unit Test 10% Quizzes and Reading Comprehension; 10% Attitude and Participation


Everything you write is persuasive--it is written by you and therefore expressive of your opinion. Every writer's purpose is in altering his/her reader's beliefs or opinions. But some essays have the specific purpose of persuading the reader of one side of a particular argument rather than just explicating or comparing literature, or defining or classifying something.

There are several different ways to argue your point. You can “appeal” to a person's logic, emotions, or sense of ethics or justice. In Greek these appeals are called logos, pathos, and ethos, respectively.

You can also reason deductively. For instance,

all men are pigs

Elmer is a man =Elmer is a pig

(the above eg. is a syllogism)

Or, you can reason inductively and give the conclusion first, then general evidence that supports it.

There are a few major types of persuasion:

SATIRE is appeal to emotion (pathos) -aims at our sense of ridiculous with irony

ELOQUENCE is appeal to emotion or ethos (ethics/reputation of author) usually with heroic purpose Whether in your own writing or in others', watch out for logic fallicies. Here are some rules to help:

1. evidence/ premises must be true and relevant and complete

2. conclusions derived must bewithout fallacy

Here are some valid forms of EVIDENCE:

1. common knowledge

2. specific examples or anecdotes

3. statistical data

4. analogy -good for clarification NOT for proof

Also, when writing your satires and persuasive essays:


1. Your Audience-who are you persuading?

2. Appeals to Reason and Emotion-these use different types of evidence. Reason uses statistics & research.
Emotion may use experiential evid. & opinions. Good papers will include both types.

3. Your Point of View and your audience's

4. Presuppositions- they underlie arguments-eg. a person's faith/bias.


Purpose: To compare (rhetorically and subjectively) an essay and a poem which SHARE A THEME. Ultimately, your presentation should be aimed at comprehensively addressing the following question: which vehicle (poem or essay) most persuasively addresses the given theme?

Choice of Authors: Please choose at least one British author from the Romantic, Victorian, or Modern Period (see the list below *). You may use one author of a poem and essay or two different authors (the second author can be American or other); just make sure to pick a poem and essay expressing a similar theme.

*BRITISH AUTHORS (In order to make sure a selection of authors are covered from each period; authors will be designated on a first-come, first-serve basis)

Romantic: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats

Victorian: Tennyson, Browning, Arnold, Hardy

Modern: Yeats, Woolf, Joyce, Lawrence, Eliot, Auden, Thomas

Contemporary: (outside of Norton): Smith, Hughes, Larkin, Heany

Recommended Essays: Any works from RFW or Writing Prose ; I have many other books of essays-just ask to see them.

Topic Example: Virginia Woolf's Shakespeare's Sister (my personal favorite in Norton- p. 2311) and Gray's Elegy (Norton). Both pieces discuss untapped potential; as Woolf puts it “genius is not born in labouring, uneducated, servile people.”

Project Details: You should provide TWO written assignments:

1) One typed outline/study sheet including:

1) rhetorical/ literary devices (see M.DiCapua handout)
2) specific textual evidence from both essay and poem: proof of the rhet./lit. devices,
3) effect on reader of both, and
4) a clear “thesis-type” statement defining the common theme of the works, delineating the different methods of portraying it, and confirming which work most persuasively expresses this theme.

2) One persuasive essay arguing WHY either the poem or essay is more effective. Be sure to list and argue the opposing points; use textual citation and at least one critical source for both the essay and the poem.

WARNING: The most difficult part of this assignment will probably be your selection of topic. Themes are not derived at first glance.


Compose “Gulliver Comes To Pine Crest: Book Five.” You should write in first person as Gulliver; remember, you are writing a satire. What would Gulliver think? You may choose to use an metaphor you like for describing the school--remember a satire is both exaggerated and veiled.

Gulliver's Travels: Satire

FIRST BOOK: Satire of Government and Military

Lilliputians vs. Blefuscudians = England vs. France
(War of Spanish Succession \ War of Grand Alliance)
Catholic church breaks with Anglican church
Little endians vs. Big endians =schisms in Cath. church
“His majesty's Grand-father”= George I
Great-great-great Grand'= Henry VIII
The king cut one of his fingers on the egg's shell”=
Henry “cuts his finger” on the Catholic church (which prohibits divorce--he wants to divorce Anne Bolyn since he wants a son and she can't give him one)
Six rebellions take place” = The Pilgrimage of Faith
to the Glorious Revolution
One Emperor Lost his Life” = Charles I (an Anglican executed by the Protestants)
One Lost his Throne” = James II (driven out because he's Catholic)
France is torn by eight religious wars between the Protestants and Catholics--finally, the Catholics won Louis XIV backed Catholics in England because he wanted England to turn to Catholicism and he wanted
England to be subservient to France.
“Exiles fled to Refuge of that Empire” = many defeated
royalists found refuge in France (including the wife of the murdered Charles I-- and James II)
“Big-Endians were incapable of holding Law Emplyment” = Catholics were forbidden to hold public office James II fled to France and with the help of Louis XIV set a government -in-exile and invaded Ireland

SUMMARY OF BOOK ONE: Swift points out the triviality of the English government

**Please point out as many examples of satire as you can during the film. Use the above list as a guide. At the end of the film, you will be asked to turn in a summary of the satire in book two, three, and four.


Rape of the Lock: Notes and Text
Find Texts of Modest Proposal and Gulliver's Travels online
Gulliver's Travels Discussion Questions
Guliver's Travels Web