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Reflects on the Society in Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift wrote Gulliver’s Travels in 1762 with the intent of providing entertainment for people. Entertainment through satire was what Swift had in mind. In Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift traveled to four different foreign countries, each representing a corrupt part of England.
Swift criticized the corruption of such parts and focused on the government, society, science, religion and man. Not only did Swift criticize the customs of each country, he mocked the naive man who was unable to figure out the double meaning of things.
When reading Gulliver’s Travels, reflects upon plot, characters, settings, theme, point of view, conflicts, climax, resolution, symbolism and figurative language will be of great help to comprehend the ideas portrayed throughout the novel as well as how Swift developed the story.
I. Settings of Gulliver’s Travels The setting plays an important role in all novels, but in Gulliver’s Travels, one must take into consideration that the four different parts of the book have separate settings. The first setting was more or less on an island called Lilliput where Gulliver cast ashore due to a ship wrecks on November 5, 1699.
The setting of the second part in the novel happened to be upon his arrival at another island which Gulliver had wished to inspect for water.
The third part of the book consisted of many different little scenes where Gulliver’s experience on an island called Laputa was pictured first. The fourth and also the last part of the book took place in the country of Houyhnhnms 1711. II. Discussion of Characters a) The Main Character Gulliver, main character in the novel, used to be a well educated sailor who was recommended to be a surgeon later.
Traveling around the world and exploring new places, Gulliver had met many new cultures and civilizations. He wore clothes uncommon in 1700s and had long hair which sometimes restricted him from turning his head. Gulliver was a sophisticated character and this could be seen when he referred to past experiences during an adventure. However, by the end of Book II in Gulliver’s Travels, it was very clear that the character of Gulliver was not the same man who wrote the letter in the beginning of the story. In fact, he was not the same man he was in Book I.
From the onset of Gulliver’s Travels, Swift created for us a seemingly competent character and narrator in Gulliver from whom we could learn how adventures have changed him and his perception of people. Gulliver is an entirely credible and probable person as well as the one being the instrument for Swift’s satire. In his incredible circumstances, Gulliver proved himself resourceful and observant of his surroundings, thus he could change in accordance with the places he visited and the events he witnessed. As a traveler in Lilliput, he was careful in observations and complete in descriptions.
Occupied as he was with the surface of things, we see Gulliver’s problem of not seeing with eyes wide open wane his judgment of character, making him become more and more narrow-minded as the story proceeded. On the whole, Gulliver is a very frustrating character to deal with for a number of reasons. For example, he is not steady. This unsteadiness as a narrator leads us to question the validity of what Gulliver told us, which means that we have to be on our guard against what he said. This Gulliver is not, by any means, a wholly allegorical character but as much an individual as the next person.
In certain ways, Gulliver proved to be more resilient than the ordinary man was by managing to survive the disastrous shipwrecks and people so foreign they might as well be aliens. Still in other ways Gulliver is a naive person, bereft of decency and consideration. b) Other Minor Characters In Gulliver’s Travels, there were many minor characters more easily referred to in the names of their peoples. They were: the small Lilliputians, the giant Brobdingnags, the creatures at Lugnagg and Balnibarbi islands of Laputa and Blubdrubdrib, and finally the Yahoos and Houyhnhnms. III. Study of the Context ) Satires of English Politics In Gulliver’s first travel where he visited Lilliput, Gulliver was faced with the minute people called Lilliputians. Now while this was the premise for a fantasy story, Swift used the events within to make severe criticisms of England between reigns of Queen Anne and George ?. The people of Lilliput were about six inches tall and their size signified that their motives, acts, and humanity were the same dwarfish. The political parties of the British government were represented by the conservative High Heels who depicted the Tories and the progressive Low Heels, or Whigs.
As their names, the distinguishing mark of the parties was the height of their heels. Within these two parties, Swift criticized the English political parties, and the Prince of Wales. Swift also mocked the religion war that was going on in England through the use of war between Lilliput and its nearest neighbor, Blefuscu. Swift also used terms High Heels and Low Heels to compare the meaningless battles of the Whigs and Tories, such as the height of heels. b) Filthy Characteristics of Man With Gulliver’s next travel, we find him in Brobdingnag.
His voyage showed us the filthily mental and physical characteristics of man. Here, Gulliver was confronted with an adult nurse who repulsively revealed her breasts to Gulliver. This reminded him of how the Lilliputians found his skin full of craterlike pores and stumps of hair growing from them. The odor of the immense creatures was offending and it caused Gulliver to recall the fact that the Lilliputians were also offended of his body odor. In Laputa, Gulliver was confronted with the old age Struldbuggs which looked utterly hideous due to an old age and the deterioration of their bodies.
The Yahoos from the land of Houyhnhnms were filthy, uncivilized creatures who used their own dung as a weapon. In these descriptions, Swift criticized both the moral and physical corruption of man. c) Society’s Unrealistic Ideas Gulliver’s third voyage to the floating island of Laputa was one of the most satirical of the whole book. In this voyage Swift criticized the Royal Society of England, saying it was composed of useless philosophers, inventors and scientists. The floating island signified that the inhabitants were composed of the same airy constitution as the environment.
Projects done by such people were summed up by “the Universal Artist” who directed his followers to turn useful things into the exact opposite, resulting in useless achievements. Some of the experiments held were to create tangible air, wool-less sheep and horses with stone hooves. The flying island itself expressed not only the desertion on the common earth of reality but their conversion of the universe to a mechanism and of living to a mechanical process. IV. Analysis of Specific Scenes a) On the Lilliput Island On Lilliput Island, Gulliver seemed to be eminently fair-minded compared to the cunning, vindictive, petty Lilliputians.
Literally a giant in their land, Gulliver never took unfair advantage of his size in his dealing with them. Though they were violent with him, he never retaliated. He was frequently injured, as the king’s dwarf took out his frustrations on Gulliver. But the latter was an improvement from his job as a freak at village fairs. In this section, the royal palace was accidentally set on fire, containing the empress inside. Instead of making his way across town, to the ocean, and squashed the people of Lilliput as he went, Gulliver made use of his urine to save the palace.
While this vulgar episode was a display of bravery, it infuriated the emperor, causing revenge to be vowed on Gulliver. Rather than be happy for that both the emperor and the palace were not in ruin, the littleness of the government and the people in general was displayed in this act. Another display of this was the fact that Gulliver had been used as the Emperor’s absolute weapon, but the emperor only used him to conquer his world of two islands, which had made the emperor’s ambition seemed extremely low. b) On the Land of Houyhnhnms
In the fourth part of the novel, Gulliver traveled to the land of the Houyhnhnms and came across a pack of Yahoos and was instantly appalled by them. There he quoted, “Upon the whole, I never beheld in all my travels so disagreeable and animal, or one against which I naturally conceived so strong an antipathy. ” This statement was of best ironic, for Gulliver never saw the resemblances between the Yahoos and himself. Afterwards, he encountered the rational Houyhnhnms and he immediately realized the common characteristics he had in common with the Yahoos.
The Yahoos were portrayed as savage animals with human characteristics, which was the biggest mockery of mankind in the whole book. The Yahoos were so greedy that they would fight over enough food to feed an entire army of fifty soldiers just to keep it to themselves. They would poison their own bodies by sucking a root, similar to alcohol, to reach a high. The female population of the Yahoos was also given characteristics of ladies of the royal stature.
Their gestures of hiding behind bushes and trees as well as looking at the passing-by males gave the impression of a woman hiding her face behind a fan while looking flirtatiously over her shoulder. The smell associated with the female Yahoos was similar to the perfume ladies wear to attract men. By the time Gulliver returned to England, he became completely antisocial, disgusted by the sight of his own wife and children. Gulliver’s desire to become a Houyhnhnm gave the reader an impression that he was a pathetic man who strived to become someone he could never be. ) Interpretation of the Theme Many critics who criticized Gulliver’s Travels had used the word “extraneous” more than once. Swift was viewed as an insane person who was a failure in life. But this was far from the truth, for the theme of this story is how human nature and reason reflect society. Written from real experience, Gulliver’s Travels is assigned to students for years. It’s Swift’s experience of the Tories and their conflicts with the Whigs caused him to write such work to mock religious beliefs, government or people with views differed from his own.
Broadly, the book has three themes: satirical views of the state of European government, and of petty differences between religions; an inquiry into whether men are inherently corrupt or whether they become corrupted; a restatement of the “ancients versus moderns” controversy. Bibliography and Website * * Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels Penguin Books Ltd (UK), 2007 * Ronald Knowles, Gulliver’s’ Travels: the Politics of Satires Twayne Publishers, 1996 * Wikipedia-http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/main_page