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Gulliver's Traverls by Jonathan Swift

·713 words·4 mins·
Gulliver literature

Gulliver’s travels was published anonimously in 1726, it consisted of four books, because Gulliver undertakes four voyages in the story. There is a book for each voyage. The protagonist belongs to the middle class.

It is considered a travel book because Gulliver undertakes four differendt voyages, people liked stories about exotic places that were different from England.

The name of the protagonist is Lemuel Gulliver, and the book cannot be forced into a single genre. For some critics it is a travel book, for others a children’s book,

The four travels in Gulliver’s travels #

People like us may know just the story of the first book, because the film is based on the story of the first travel. He finds himself as a giant in a foreign country, while the inhabitants are tiny people. Apparently, this story seems a story for children, but it is not. The lillipushians seem friendly, but instead they are mildly aggressive, Swift criticizes the politicians of the english society who seem kind but in reality are quite aggressive.

In the second book Gulliver finds himself in Brodignak, in this case he is tiny while the inhabitants are giants. They treat him like a toy, a speaking doll, he entertains the king exalting his country, the people and the enterprises of England, but when the king asks him more questions about it what emerges is the heavy corruption in english politics.

In the third journey he is in Ollaputa, a floating island, where the inhabitants are musciian, scientists, philosophers, people who have only as ingle interest and aren’t pragmatic. The inhabitants have servants to do everyday things for them, in this case there could be a critic to the royal society and the scientists of the period who even made dangerous researches.

In the last book, Gulliver is in the land of Whims, the name reminds our professor of the sound of the horses, and the Whims in fact are horses. In this country there are rational and kind horses, the Whims. Gulliver is attracted by the rational standardized society of the horses, what emerges is that they are unable to be sympathetic to the other people, to understand the needs of the other people. The Yahoos are very similar to human beings, they are aggressive, irrational, rude and quite savage. Gulliver doesn’t like the Yahoos, at the end of the story Gulliver comes back to England he can’t stand living with other people and starts living in the staple with the horses, the Whims.

He doesn’t want to have any relationshiop with mankind. Swift is considered for this an ambigous writer, he was on the side of the poor but at the same time he considered mankind stupid, aggressive and unable to be rational as he wanted people to be.

If we search deeply what is beyond the surface we can see that he criticizes English society and politics, with an attack towards mankind.

There is a sort of symmetry between the first and second book. Swift is also criticizing the British feeling of superiority towards other people, mainly in the first and second one. In the first book the Lilliputians feel superior because of their feelings, in the second the Brobdingnags feel superior thanks to their size.

Themes #

  • Pessimism and the limits of human beings
  • attacks on
    • human vanity
    • impractical pedantry
    • corruption and provincialism
  • allegorical dimension: realism vs fantastic situations

The fictional places are located in continents that exist, such as Asia. The story pretends to be real, but it’s not. The protagonist belongs to the middle class, he can be real, like the places and the way the inhabitants of the imaginary countries act makes them feel real. The style is simple and plain.

  • first persona narrator
  • simple and plain languagemisanthr
  • sharp satire
    • against humankind: misanthrope (someone who dislikes and avoid other people. Swift too was a misanthrope)
    • against political situation in 18th century
  • realism
    • detailed descriptions and maps
    • matter-of-fact language
    • introductory letters: of the editor and of Gulliver
  • devices of disproportion and alteration (human relationships as well as physical size)

Swift is against the was and pro peace, as we can see in a most obstinate war, where thousands of people die just because of an argument on when to break an egg.