Gulliver’s TravelsJonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels unleashes the blemishes of mankind. Along with mankind comes an unavoidable imperfection which ultimately lowers one’s perception of man. The satiric story occurs in two imaginative lands called Lilliput, where all of the inhabitants are much smaller than Gulliver, the exhausted ship doctor who managed to swim to shore after a horrendous storm causes a ship wreck, and Brobdingnag, where the people tower over the puny Gulliver. Each land contrasts in its style of government which aids in the discovery of the faults of man. As depicted in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, mankind possesses foibles and vices which detract from his nobility.
Mankind’s faults often take away from how people perceive one another. Initially, the laziness of man allows others to view him as unworthy of nobility. Sleeping ?sounder than ever I[Gulliver] remember to have done in my life,?(508) Gulliver unknowingly allows others to perceive him as a lazy bum. Gulliver prefers that the secretary deliver Gulliver’s duty to the emperor because Gulliver does not feel like doing so(512). Impatiently, mankind insists upon receiving the proper respect immediately. Once again, Gulliver illustrates his nonaristocratic traits by not allowing himself to sit still when he remains fully aware that he remains binded by the string (508). Gulliver, when in desperate need of nourishment, ?found the demands of nature so strong upon me[him], that I[he] could not forbear showing my[his] impatience,?(509) and immediately signaled for food by repeatedly sticking his finger inside of his mouth further portraying the demise of mankind. Ignorantly, man sets himself up for tragedy which detracts from his dignity. Gulliver stumbles upon a civilization in which vacant positions exist in the government, and people may perform such acts as jumping high on a tight rope in order to obtain the position; however, these acts of stupidity ?are often attended with fatal accidents?(511). A war has occurred numerous times between Lilliput and Blefuscu over which end of the egg to slice when breaking eggs, and many people have ?suffered death, rather than submit to break their eggs at the smaller end,?(512) further illustrating the incompetence of man. More serious occurrences take place that threaten man’s nobility.
Severe vices exist which detract from mankind’s worthiness. Cowardliness, for example, remains uncharacteristic of nobility. Gulliver cried in pain when the inhabitants of Lilliput shot him with hundreds of arrows which ?pricked me[him] like so many needles?(508). The queen of Brobdingnag ?frequently rallied….[Gulliver]….on account of my[his] fearfulness,?(515) which made Gulliver less aristocratic. Distracting from the worthiness of mankind, dishonesty lies as a harmful trap for man. Astonished with the ?historical account?(515) that Gulliver gave the king of Brobdingnag, the king refused to accept the tales. The king of Lilliput, unsure of how Gulliver would behave, ?mingled sleeping potion in the hogshead of wine,?(510) moreover taking away from the king’s nobility by the king exhibiting his covertness. Deceitfulness and hatefulness, two tragic traits of mankind, lessen the amount of dignity a man possesses. One of the dwarfs constantly nagged Gulliver by catching flies and deliberately releasing them beneath Gulliver’s nose to frighten Gulliver(515). The king of Brobdingnag rudely explains to Gulliver that ?the bulk of [his] natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth?(515).
Mankind possesses flaws and blemishes which lessen his honor. Characteristics such as ignorance and impatience act as foibles of man. Also, the awful vices of man including cowardliness and deceitfulness detract from the nobility of man. These personal frailties take away from how one perceives man. The faults of man remain avoidable given that an effort by man is put forth in order to cease these negative occurrences. Ultimately, man creates his own demise by acquiring these poor characteristics that curb his dignity