Food, Power, and Size

Gulliver’s Travels is highly based upon class and food. The higher class you are, the more plentiful food is to come by, and the more delicious the food is. The lower the class you are, the more scarce food is to find, and if you were to find food it would not be as pleasant to eat. However, when you are left with little choice on food to eat, it all becomes the best meal in the world since it is based on perspective.

In the story, they joke about how this man’s large appetite may create a famine in the town because of all the food he is eating. Because he is the higher class, he can eat and eat, despite his size and appetite, because his friends and family make decisions on who can eat how much and when. Then, when he travels to the land of Brobdingnag, he has a miniscule appetite compared to these fellows. Their portions of food are so large that they could kill him. Gulliver fears for is life several times when he is at their land because of being thrown into a bowl of cream and then being placed into the marrow of a bone until he is rescued.

Overall, Gulliver’s travels takes food and class and uses those two topics to show the struggle between food and power. It also takes into account that size does matter when it comes to a power struggle.


3 thoughts on “Food, Power, and Size

  1. I found it interesting that you found Gulliver’s Travels to be more about power than anything else. In some ways I would have to agree that food is directly related to social status but can we say that the higher classes are actually responsible for the less fortunate and their eating habits? Is someone who has more money than I do impacting my diet by limiting the food I can obtain? I don’t think so but I can see how that could be the case in the story. When I read it I was struck by the difference in size and found this difference to be the indication of power. Both in the story and in many cases real life, those who have a higher social status think of themselves as being “bigger or better” than those below them. Do you think there is any other connection between the size difference and social class or ethnicity in the story?

    wc 159

  2. As we are discovering throughout the course, class and food are very indicative of one another. Your point of food and power is quite interesting and a reasonable stance based on our readings. The correlation of food representing power is relative. Class and power creates an accessibility to these foods. As Sara Michelle commented, aren’t those limitations on food indicative of the dispersement from the “powerful” of a “higher class” directly to those in a differing “lower class”. In terms of size and the power struggle, does big equally healthy always win?

  3. Sara, I really like your shift from class to power — I think this is a great point. It seems as though, particularly in the first book, that Gulliver isn’t necessarily being intentionally greedy, but his bodily demands (be them for food or to urinate in the case of the fire in the capital) exact a huge strain on the community. I always wonder what Swift might be saying about the assumptions individuals make about other cultures and communities. Since Gulliver is a traveler, he seems to bring his own assumptions about the way that the world works, and at times, these assumptions have dangerous and devastating consequences.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s