Essay on Gulliver's Time Travels: A Romp Through European History

Essay on Gulliver's Time Travels: A Romp Through European History

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Gulliver’s Travels, written by Jonathan Swift, is a classic example of satire. It is a story about an English man named Lemuel Gulliver, a ship surgeon, and his adventures to mythical lands. He first visits Lilliput, a land where the inhabitants are only six inches tall, making Gulliver a giant. He then visits Brobdingnag, where the people are sixty feet tall, and he appears insignificant. He also finds himself in the land of the Laputans, Glubdubdribbs, Luggnaggians, and Struldbrugs for a short period of time. His final journey is to the land of the Houyhnhnms and Yahoos, where Houyhnhnms, horses, are civilized creatures and Yahoos, humans, are barbarians. During these travels, Gulliver discovers the truth about his homeland and humankind. In Gulliver’s Travels, Swift uses multiple examples of political, religious, intellectual, economic, and social satire to exhibit the faults of Europe in the eighteenth century.
Swift focuses on political satire throughout the novel. This first appears in Lilliput, where, in order to keep or receive a political office, the people must perform a tightrope walk to prove they are deserving and talented. The better they perform, the higher office they get (Swift 17). This means that there are many opportunities for people with talent, just like in France during Napoleon’s reign. This also shows that people are being rewarded for meaningless talents, which shows that Swift disagrees with this policy. Furthermore, in Lilliput, there are two groups, the Tramecksans and the Slamecksans, also known as the high heels and the low heels. These two groups have been fighting because the high heels are more agreeable to the Constitution and have much less political power than the low heels (Swif...


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In Gulliver’s Travels, Swift uses multiple examples of political, religious, intellectual, economic, and social satire to exhibit the faults of Europe during the eighteenth century. This story, however, also has contemporary connections. The high and low heels of Lilliput, for example, can represent Democrats and Republicans in the United States. Swift’s use of satire allowed him to criticize what was happening in Europe at the time without being too obvious about it. Whereas many other novels were being burned for criticizing governments, Swift was able to mask his criticisms through satire. He was still able to inform the readers of the faults of Europe without angering any leaders. Ultimately, Swift is able to use satire to comment to serious societal issues of the eighteenth century while still providing an entertaining novel.

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