Robert Corrigan: Can Gulliver's Travels be considered a Comedy? Essay example

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According to Robert Corrigan, Comedy is a means by which we master our disillusionment with a dishonest or ignorant world. Corrigan’s theory of comedy states that by recognizing the blunders and stupidity of humanity, we would be able to liberate ourselves with wise laughter that purges our discontent and causes us to be aware of the wrongness in our society and selves. By relating Gulliver’s Travels to this theory, I state that Gulliver’s Travels can be considered a comedy in three ways: firstly, it allows us to recognize the imperfections of humanity, which is represented and described by the protagonist, and so fulfils one requirement of Corrigan’s theory of comedy. Secondly, the text causes us to become aware of the faults in human society through laughter, to remove the sting of the criticism. Finally, Corrigan states that comedy should be a tool for us to master our disillusionment with our society, this the case for Gulliver’s Travels, since at the end of the book Pedro and Portuguese ship captain shows the reader clearly that humanity is still not beyond hope of redemption, and we should seek to overcome our flaws.
For most part of the text, Gulliver is representative of the human race, in all its foibles and idiocy. Through books one to three Gulliver is an ardent proponent of the human race and regards every scientific or social inventions they have made to be worthy of admiration and praise. For example, in the court of the Brobdingnagian King, Gulliver unabashedly informs, and even offers to make for the King of Brobdingnag, the human invention of gunpowder, which, as Gulliver proudly states, can “rip up the pavement, tear the houses to pieces, burst and throw splinters on every side, dashing out the brains of all wh...

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...o shows that humanity is not beyond saving, that we could become moral, enlightened persons like Don Pedro, who is, after all, human, like the rest of us. As such, Gulliver’s Travels shows us a way of mastering our disillusionment, by pointing to us the example of Don Pedro, Swift is showing us that it is possible for humanity to attain a higher level, that we can all become Don Pedro. Thus, Gulliver’s Travels does show us that we can overcome our baser nature, and in so doing, master our disillusionment with ourselves.
In conclusion, Corrigan’s theory of Comedy matches Gulliver’s Travels to a large extent. It does allow us to understand the flaws of humankind, and, through laughter, shows us our imperfections. Gulliver’s Travels also shows us that it is possible for humanity to overcome its baser nature, and so allows us to master our disillusionment with ourselves.

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