Essay about Satire in Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift

Essay about Satire in Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift

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Satire in Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift


In Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift makes a satirical attack on humanity. In the final book, Swift takes a stab at humanity by simultaneously criticizing physiological, mental, and spiritual aspects of humans. Literary critics Ronald Knowles and Irvin Ehrenpreis both agree that the last book focused entirely on satirizing humanity. The Yahoo brutes that inhabit Houyhnhnm Land are a despicable species that have the physical appearance of humans. Though their behavior seems to be decadent and irrational, Swift shows that most of their behavior have parallels in the life of "civilized" humans. The Houyhnhnms seem to embody virtue and all the perfections that humans seek, but there are inconsistencies in their behavior that are reflective human faults. The Houyhnhnms do not look human in appearance, so Swift uses them to reveal hypocrisies of human thought. Throughout the book, Swift makes attacks on the religious perception of "man"; He also expresses disagreement with deist ideology. Ehrenpreis and Knowles have very similar opinions concerning Book IV of Gulliver's Travels, but Knowles expresses a more concrete interpretation of the satire.
According to Ehrenpreis, Swift lived in John Locke's time, and takes many ideas of humanity from him. Locke said that humans tend to classify species as "man" by their physical appearance. If there was a man without reason, he would be a dull irrational "man", and if there was an animal could express reason, they would be an intelligent and rational "animal". To Ehrenpreis, the Yahoos "embody an ironical reflection upon the fact that the bulk of unthinking men do in practice treat external shape as a sounder guide to humanity than ...


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...nowles and Ehrenpreis, it seems like the Houyhnhnms were used as objects of satire. What was not apparent, but pointed out by both critics was the fact that inconsistencies in the Houyhnhnm character are reflective of paradoxes in human thought. The only support Ehrenpreis gave was the parallel between the hippocentricity of the Houyhnhnms and the anthropocentricity of humans. Knowles used many examples from the book to support his ideas. The most subtle criticisms were made on religion. Ehrenpreis' explanations mostly used supporting evidence from Locke. He used an argument against Trinitarianism and another on Christianity in general. Knowles' explanation of the religious satire seemed more plausible because it was focused on Deism. He used works from many authors to first convey Deist ideals, then from examples in the book, tried to show the paradoxes.

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