Gulliver’s Travels Paper
The main purpose of satire is to attack and intensely criticize the target subject (individuals, organizations, states, etc. ) through irony, sarcasm, and innuendo often as an intended means of provoking or preventing change. This is superbly carried out in the classic piece of satire Gulliver’s Travels, Swift uses satire to criticize the haphazard decision making strategy of high ranking government officials. This very concept is still prevalent in today’s society. A prime example of this exists with the Iraqi war. Swift allows his feelings about the situations of his people and people of other places under British rule to show through.
In Gulliver’s Travels, Swift also expresses his contempt for the English and the way they treated, rather, mistreated, the people of their country. In the Voyage to Lilliput, the Emperor fought a war over the “correct” way to break an egg. The people of Lilliput choose to break their eggs over the small end, while their Belfuscan counterparts cracked their eggs on the big end. “It is allowed on all hands, that the primitive way of breaking eggs before we eat them, was upon the larger end: but his present Majesty’s grandfather, while he was a boy, going to eat an egg…
happened to cut one of his fingers. “(598) Swift portrayed his contempt for the way England declared war over trivialities. This is primarily criticized because the relevance of the situation is miniature, but the response is largely blown out of control. Swift says “The people so highly resented this law, that our histories tell us there has been six rebellions raised on that account; wherein one emperor lost his life and another his crown. “(598) The faulty decisions made by skills the government have fueled at least six wars over matters that are shallow when looked at more closely.
Swift is satirizing their pettiness and their vengefulness over a trivial conflict, which would not exist if it was not for the “highly esteemed” government. Correspondingly, the faulty decision making processes also reflect on the selection of government officials through tight rope dancing. Gulliver says, “This diversion is only practiced by those who are candidates for great employment, and high favor, at court. They are trained in this art from their youth, and are not always of noble birth, or liberal education.
When a great office is vacant either by death or disgrace 5 or 6 of those candidates petition the Emperor to entertain his majesty with a dance on the rope and whoever jumps the highest without falling, succeeds in office”(595). The Lilliputian’s applicants must have dexterity and the ability to dance well on the tight rope without falling. The qualification of holding that position is irrelevant to carrying out the job correctly. Swift is satirizing the foolishness of the whole process and trying to illustrate England this way.