Eating is an important symbol throughout “A Modest Proposal,” illustrating in painfully literal terms the predatory behavior of the upper classes, and colonial powers more generally. For the Proposer, resorting to cannibalism is just a natural extension of the daily activities of landlords and aristocrats. In addition, Swift uses the symbol of eating to paint humankind as fundamentally bestial creatures—creatures not inherently rational but only capable of reason on rare occasions.
Eating Quotes in A Modest Proposal
I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.
I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or broiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or ragout.
I grant that this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.