What point does Swift make with his metaphorical use of the word "devour" in the sentence.."As they have already devoured most of the parents seem..."Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I grant 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.

In his "modest proposal" of having the British eat the starving Irish babies so that their mothers will better be able to feed the other children, Johanthan Swift suggests the pratical manner in which this proposal can be worked out.  He urges that there be open season year round for the babies of the poor, and with an accountant's precision, he calculates the cost.  And, since the cost will be high, or "dear," the baby will make a "proper" dish for the British landlords to serve their company.  Also, Swift writes, since the landlords have "devoured" the parents already by providing them no rights, overcharging them on rents, and impoverishing them to the point that they starve, it is only fitting that they literarlly devour the children of these parents.  

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A Modest Proposal

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