Gulliver Essay

Travels By Swift
Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin on November 30 in 1967. Swift’s father was
an English lawyer died while his wife was pregnant to Jonathan. Right after he
was born, his mother left him to be raised by his brother. He graduated from
Trinity College and started a master’s degree, but left to join the Glorious
Revolution. The object of this revolution was to convince James II (King of
England) to abdicate the throne. Swift’s last years were a torment. He
suffered awful bouts of dizziness, nausea, deafness and mental incapacity. In
fact, Swift’s harshest critics tried to discredit this book on the grounds
that he was mad when he wrote it. But he wasn’t. The Travels were published in
1726 and Part IV, which raised the most controversy, was written before Part III
and Swift did not enter a mental institution until 1745. Swift was dean of St.

Patrick’s’ Cathedral in Dublin when his novel came out. Since in this book
he wrote about political figures, he published the book anonymously. It didn’t
take long for people to discover that the author was Jonathan Swift. Not only
had he been involved in some important and heated political events of the time,
but he was also a well-known political journalist and satirist whose style was
quite distinctive. Gulliver’s Travels is the tale of Lemuel Gulliver as he
voyages to the strange lands of Lilliput, Brobdingnag, the kingdom of Laputa,
and the land of the Houhnnms. (WHIN-NIMMS) Gulliver is the most important
character in this novel. He’s the “author” of the Travels. He’s
frustrating to deal with for a number of reasons. 1. He’s not steady; he
changes in relation to the places he visits and the events that befall him as he
voyages. 2. He’s often a victim of swift’s satire. This means you have to be
on your guard against what he says, even though he’s the guide, you cannot
follow him everywhere. 3. It’s impossible to feel relaxed with Gulliver. Swift
won’t let us trust him enough for that. 4. Because Gulliver directs a lot of his
hostility toward us- readers beyond reform- we in turn feel hostile toward him.

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5. Looking at Gulliver is a lot like looking in a mirror. We are by turns
fascinated, attracted, disgusted, and ashamed. You first meet Gulliver at the
“end” of his story, in a letter he’s written to his publisher. By now
Gulliver is out of his mind: he’s raving, he’s nasty, he lies, he’s proud beyond
the limits of pride. But he wasn’t always. He grew up in Nottinghamshire, the
third of five sons in a respectable, middle-class family. While in school he
held jobs: as an apprentice, he proved his competence; as a physician, he was
able to get work on ships, which had been his lifelong dream. The first place he
travels to is called Lilliput. People here are six inches high and Gulliver, in
comparison is a giant, or a “man mountain” as they call him. This section of
Part I is essentially an allegory of English politics in the early 18th century
when the Whigs and the Tories were fighting over control of the country. His
mission here is to aid the Lilliputians in their war against blefuscu (Lilliput
represents England, Blefuscu, France) Gulliver literally seizes the enemy fleet
and strides across the harbor with it back to Lilliput. For a short time he’s
a hero. But he urinates in a fire that saves the royal chambers, but he is
impeached for disobeying an ordinance prohibiting public urination. He escapes
and then goes home to England. Part II begins in Brobdingnag. Gulliver here is
seen cruel and vindictive just like the Lilliputians. One day he’s at an
outing with the King and Queen and his house “a box” is kidnapped by a bird
and dropped in the sea. It’s recovered by an English ship and he moves back to
England. Part III, Gulliver goes to the flying island of Laputa and some of its
nearby colonies. Gulliver recedes in Part III. Not much happens to him
personally, for the most part he recounts what he observes in the way of
scientific experiments. Swift uses Gulliver to relate deadpan what he himself
considers to be foolish attitudes and activities. Gulliver goes mad in Part IV.

Presented with the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos, Gulliver tries desperately to
become a Houyhnhnm, an animal governed entirely by reason. He cannot, of course.

Gulliver isn’t able to see the Yahoos as Swift intends them to be seen- as
representing the worst traits in human nature, and the lowest level to which he
might sink. Gulliver sees the Yahoos as mankind, period. Gulliver also
misapprehends the Houyhnhnms. It is only to Gulliver- not to Swift- that these
creatures represent a human ideal. Gulliver, neither Yahoo nor Houyhnhnm, can
find no species to which he belongs, and so goes mad. The overarching theme of
the novel can be said to be the question, “What is it to be human?” In this
book you are exposed to a host of creatures and situations and systems that also
help you wonder such themes like Human nature is petty What is good government?
What are the values of reason? What are the limits of reason? And The sin of
pride is the most dangerous sin of all The style of this novel is composed
chiefly of satire, allegory and irony. The book is very entertaining and it ?s
written to vex you, to startle you into deep reflection and to invite debate.


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