Essay on English Satire in Gulliver’s Travels

Essay on English Satire in Gulliver’s Travels

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Gulliver’s Travels is a satirical novel about a sailor’s adventures through strange lands; the author of Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift, uses these adventures to satirize the English society. The most prevalent satire is used as Gulliver travels through the lands of Lilliput, Brombdinag, and the Houyhnhnms.

One example of satire against the English society in Gulliver’s Travels is the political affairs of the Lilliputians. The Lilliputians to gain a high ranking office “competed for them by dancing on a rope for the entertainment of the emperor” (Orwell). The rope dancing is a direct shot at England’s election system, comparing it to doing ridiculous activities that have nothing to do with politics. Also, Jonathan Swift satirized the English Parliament directly by modeling Flimnap, a Lilliputian politician, after England’s first Prime Minister, Robert Warpole.
“… Swift’s model for Flimnap was Robert Warpole, the leader of the Whig’s and England’s first Prime Minister in the modern sense. Warpole was an extremely wily politician, as Swift shows, by making Flimnap the most dexterous of the rope dancers” (Cliffnotes).
Jonathan Swift cleverly roasts English politics with a simple rope dancing competition and politician, Warpole, who is extremely talented at “dancing on rope”.

Another example of satire against England, in Gulliver’s Travels, in Lilliput is Gulliver compared to the Lilliputians. In the novel, Gulliver is shown to be “… Greeted by great acclaim and be made a nobleman” (Dawson), for “offering his services to the emperor… and [bringing] back [Blefuscu’s] entire fleet” (Dawson). However, the emperor of Lilliput wanted them to be made slaves, while Gulliver wanted a peace agreement: “The pro-Gulliver forces prevai...


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...nt mankind deprived” (cliffnotes). The Yahoos are used to satirize what European’s are as human beings: “Why is it that we don’t mind being called Yahoos, although firmly convinced that we are not Yahoos” (Politics vs. Literature). European’s are Yahoos because they can never be perfect and devoid of basic instinct like the Houyhnhnms. Swift is using this image to show English society we are more Yahoo than we can ever be Houyhnhnm.
Lilliput, Brombdinag, and the land of Houyhnhnms are the most relevant satire in Gulliver’s travels. Jonathan Swift uses these places to “roast” the European society. Swift desires for Europeans to realize their flaws and develop them. Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is a marvelous adaption of English society flawed.



Works Cited

"Gulliver's Travels By Jonathan Swift Book Summary." Book Summary. Cliffnotes, n.d. Web. 01 May 2014.

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