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Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels

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Although Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift has long been thought of as a children's story, it is actually a dark satire on the fallacies of human nature. The four parts of the book are arranged in a planned sequence, to show Gulliver's optimism and lack of shame with the Lilliputians, decaying into his shame and disgust with humans when he is in the land of the Houyhnhmns. The Brobdingnagians are more hospitable than the Lilliputians, but Gulliver's attitude towards them is more disgusted and bitter. Gulliver's tone becomes even more critical of the introspective people of Laputa and Lagado, and in Glubbdubdrib he learns the truth about modern man. Gulliver finds the Luggnuggians to be a "polite and generous people" (III, 177), until he learns that the Struldbruggs' immortality is a curse rather than a blessing. Throughout the course of Gulliver’s Travels, Gulliver’s encounters with each culture signify a progression from benevolence towards man to misanthropy, resulting in Gulliver's final insanity.

In the first part of the book, Gulliver arrives on a strange island and wakes up tied to the ground by a culture of six-inch tall Lilliputians. Gulliver is amazed by the skill of the Lilliputians in handling him, but he is offended by their disrespect: “…in my Thoughts I could not sufficiently wonder at the Intrepidity of these diminutive Mortals, who durst venture to mount and walk on my Body, while one of my Hands was at Liberty, without trembling at the very Sight of so prodigious a Creature as I must appear to them” (I, 8). However, Gulliver complies with every inconvenience that the Lilliputians bestow on him, because he allows them to take him prisoner even though he could destroy them with one stomp. It is rather amusing that Gulliver surrenders to these tiny

people so quickly: “…when I felt the Smart of their Arrows upon my Face and Hands…I gave Tokens to let them know that they might do with me what they pleased” (I, 9). They also tie Gulliver up as if he were a dog, and search his pockets in order to confiscate any weapons, among numerous other actions in which Gulliver placidly succumbs. No matter how respectful Gulliver is, however, it is negated by his lack of shame. By urinating on the queen’s palace to put out a fire, he does not realize that he offended the queen immensely, and this is the cause for his impeachment. By making th...

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...is own race begins to turn on him ironically when he describes the culture of his native country to the Houyhnhnms. The rational beings conclude that Gulliver really is a Yahoo because the civilized people of Gulliver’s culture are just as corrupt as the less civilized Yahoos. Upon realizing the morose fact that he is indeed a Yahoo dressed up like a civilized man, Gulliver’s psyche collapses and he is transformed into a misanthrope, forever alienated from the rest of society.

All four books of Gulliver’s Travels form a rapid descent into the dark nature of man. Swift is satirizing the elements that make men human, from small pettiness to corruptness and greed. When a sane man such as Gulliver is exposed to the different aspects of human immorality, Swift

shows how these influence his life and the effect, ultimately, is the deterioration of his mind. At the end of the book, Gulliver cannot even look at his family without feeling disgust. Above all, he is disgusted with himself for being a part of such a corrupt race as man. But Gulliver is “an honest Man, and a good Sailor, but a little too positive in his own Opinions, which was the Cause of his Destruction” (IV, 191).
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