Lockean Philosophy in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels Essay

Lockean Philosophy in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels Essay

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An Exploration of Lockean Philosophy in Gulliver's Travels          


   Ricardo Quintana asserts in his study Two Augustans that even "though Swift as a traditional philosophical realist dismissed Lockian empiricism with impatience, he recognized in Lockian political theory an enforcement of his own convictions" (76). It may be argued, however, than when two contemporary authors, such as Locke and Swift, are shaped within the same matrix of cultural forces and events, they reveal through their respective works a similar ideology. The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to explore the parallels between Locke's Some Thoughts Concerning Education and Swift's Gulliver's Travels, using textual evidence and literary criticism; and second, to compare the methods prescribed by Locke and Swift for education, taking into account some cultural views in the eighteenth-century.

The first half of the eighteenth-century, sometimes referred to as the "Age of Reason," marked a "new era in parent-child relations, based upon a confluence of political and religious currents" that radically altered the accepted social attitudes towards children (Braverman 37). The revision of the late seventeenth-century political and cultural perspective gave rise to a new philosophy that regarded children as more-or-less inherently good and virtuous. This milder view differed from earlier beliefs that portrayed children as fallen creatures, who embodied original sin derived from Adam and Eve's Fall. Commenting on Locke's Thoughts, Lawrence Stone observes the following in his extensive study The Family, Sex, and Marriage in England, 1500-1800:

[Locke's] book coincided with the overthrow of Divine Right Monarchy, the rejection of the doctrine of P...


... middle of paper ...


...versity of California Press, 1968.

Ezell, Margaret J. M. "John Locke's Images of Childhood: Early Eighteenth Century Response to Some Thoughts Concerning Education." Eighteenth-Century Studies. Winter. 1983: 139-55.

Locke, John. Two Treatises of Government, The Works of John Locke. Vol. 5. London: Thomas Teggs et al., 1823.

Locke, John. Some Thoughts Concerning Education, The Works of John Locke. Vol. 9. London: Thomas Teggs et al., 1823.

Quintana, Ricardo. Two Augustans: John Locke and Jonathan Swift. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1978.

Setten, Henk van. "Some Thoughts Concerning Education by John Locke, 1693."The History of Education Site. 1-2 pp. Online. Internet. 23 Sept. 1999. Available: http://www.socsci.kun.nl/ped/whphistedu/locke/locke_intro.html

Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver's Travels. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

 

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