Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

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Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

  1. 1. Heenaba Zala Dept. of English M. K. Bhavnagar University
  2. 2.  Multi-layered text  Swift’s satire is inspired by his hatred of mankind.  His ridiculous jokes appear very serious.  The novel is the imagination of Swift, a fully fictional world, but the real intent is different.  The society seems unreal with it has a magic mirror.  The novel can be read as the most powerful attack ever made against man's wickedness and stupidity.
  3. 3.  Gulliver's voyage to Lilliput, in the first part of the book, takes us to the land of pygmies, a land that bears a striking resemblance to England. Lilliput is a miniature empire with a little monarch who entitled himself as "delight and terror of the universe". Swift describes the life and customs of the Lilliputian court, highly remindful of the picture he had seen in London.
  4. 4.  The major difference is the size. It emphasizes physical power.  Gulliver learns about the rope-dancing skill and the selection of government officials. The would-be officers jump from through the hoops to get the position in the king’s court. This is arbitrary and ridiculous.
  5. 5.  "when a great office is vacant either by death or disgrace (which often happens), five or six of those candidates petition the emperor to entertain his Majesty and the Court with a dance on the rope, and whoever jumps the highest without falling succeeds in the office. Very often the chief Ministers themselves are commanded to show their skill and to convince the Emperor that they have not lost their faculty."
  6. 6.  The description of the Emperor, the Court and the Ministers of Lilliput give a realistic picture of English political life under George I, a picture which, which although seen through a telescope, loses none of its essential features: the corruption of the ministers, the Court intrigues and favoritism, the squabbles of the Wigs and the Tories over trifling differences in policy, the demagogy of the religious slogans and many others.
  7. 7.  Description of man in Neoclassical Age:  Neoclassicism represented a reaction against the optimistic, exuberant, and enthusiastic Renaissance view of man as a being fundamentally good and possessed of an infinite potential for spiritual and intellectual growth. Neoclassical theorists, by contrast, saw man as an imperfect being, inherently sinful, whose potential was limited.
  8. 8.  Gulliver is tied up. This shows futile attempts of Lilliputians. They are unaware of their insignificance. They are in illusion that they have controlled Gulliver. With this Swift shows humanity’s pretentions to power and significance, importance. Gulliver’s enjoyment being a big fish in small pond.
  9. 9.  Lilliputians try to bring Gulliver to their heel is ridiculous because Gulliver can kill them simply by walking.  A Lilliputian teaches Gulliver their language. Here Swift is mocking at humanity’s belief in its own importance. Gulliver tries to communicate in all the languages which he knows.
  10. 10.  Gulliver’s belongings are taken away by the Lilliputians and he is forced to sign a document. In the document each word emphasizes Gulliver’s power.  All is meaningless and contradictory.
  11. 11.  The kingdom is divided into two factions, Tramecksan and Slamecksan. The people are distinguished by the heights of their heels. The emperor belongs to the low heels. The fear of Blefuscu. Reldresal says that Blefuscu is the Other Great Empire of the Universe.  Lilliputians don’t believe in the existence of other world, nation, human race. So they think that Gulliver’s birth is unnatural, he is dropped from the moon or the stars.
  12. 12.  A contradictory thing is that Gulliver had become fully aware that there was no essential difference between them and that actually, both of them were driven by the same selfish interests.  Swift ridicules the religious conflict over matters of rites and doctrine between Protestants and Roman Catholics, which had caused so many wars.
  13. 13.  Gulliver is informed about the reason of the war. It was about the breaking en egg.  Lilliputains argued, “That all true believers shall break their eggs at the convenient end,” here the convenient end could be interpreted as the small end. People choose death rather than to surrender. Gulliver catches the ships at Blefuscu port. The war ends.  It may sound silly for the readers but Gulliver’s reaction is very serious. Because he relates the conflict with the European history.  The High-heels and The Low-heels, to parties correspond to the Whigs and Tories of English politics.
  14. 14.  Lilliput and Blefuscu represent England and France.  The conflict between Big-Endians and Little- Endians, the Catholics and Protestants.  Fire in the queen’s room and Gulliver’s profane action to save lives. This also shows Gulliver’s physical strength. It asserts the fact that Gulliver can control the Lilliputians. The queen represents Queen Anne.  Gulliver learns about customs of the Lilliputians. Children are raised by the kingdom not by individual parents. The laborers’ children stay at home because they are suppose to work in a farm.
  15. 15.  Swift is concerned with the concrete social, political, and moral aspects of human nature.  He believes that in Man God had created an animal which was not inherently rational but only capable, on occasion, of behaving reasonably: only, as he put it, rationis capax.  Gulliver tries to be rational with the people he met.
  16. 16.  Gulliver in reverse situation  Gulliver enslaved by the farmer. Master-slave relationship  The god like Gulliver has little importance left before the giants  Gulliver’s fight with rats are adventures for him.
  17. 17.  The king sands three great scholars to examine Gulliver. They examined Gulliver’s shape and said that he could not be produced according to the regular Laws of Nature. Then they observed his teeth and said that he was a carnivorous animal. One of them said that he might be an Embrio or aborative Birth.
  18. 18.  Gulliver is forced to dance before public. Like Europeans the brobdingnagians are happy to use power.  The king makes fun of Gulliver’s culture. The England seems insignificant to the king.
  19. 19.  Gulliver is used as a plaything. With a microscopic view, Gulliver finds the culture imperfect. The personal importance of an individual is threatened. The national and individual identity is at risk.
  20. 20.  Gulliver challenges the position of dwarf in the court.  Gulliver’s position in England, in Lilliput and now in Brobdingnag, he tries to maintain the illusion of his importance.
  21. 21.  The imperfection is not of an organization or a law. The culture is imperfect. When Gulliver tries to tell the king about the secret of gunpowder, the king immediately refuses. For Gulliver gunpowder is an achievement but for the king it has no importance.  High moral sense in Brobdingnagians  In Brobdingnag the king tries to minimize the vices but they are not. The farmer, the dwarf are such examples.  In Europe also they live with the illusion that no vices exist in their society.  Gulliver speaks in English but the giants laugh at him.
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