Gulliver’s Travel is a fairytale inverted.The little beings are hurtful, the giants have more insight than man, the beasts rule, and humanity is shown, not as triumphant, but as degraded and enslaved.
Gulliver’s Travels was written by Jonathan Swift.
He was born in Dublin, Ireland on 30 November 1667. He graduated from Trinity College in 1686 and then left for England seeking a job. He was eventually the secretary to Sir William Temple. He thought that humans were disgusting and vile creatures and were a disgrace to life. He wanted to show how malicious, evil, and horrible these small beings in the world can really be. Sadly in 1745 Jonathan Swift died of paralysis, aphasia, and apathy.
Gulliver’s travel is a fairytale inverted; it is not what you would expect to find in the norm. There is no happiness, love or succession. This is not the ordinary fairytale. In this book there is betrayal, imprisonment, deceit, and deaths. In normal fairytales e.g. Sleeping Beauty the victims always prevail and defeat the evils. In this case the princess didn’t die but she fell asleep and she woke up because of a kiss from a prince, so the witch didn’t get what she wanted and they lived happily ever after. Other good examples are Snow White And The 7 Dwarfs, Jack And The Beanstalk and 101 Dalmatians.
The Little Beings Are Hurtful – Lilliput
In Lilliput, there are creatures that are like humans, but they are just smaller in size. In this voyage to Lilliput, Gulliver is the giant who is very virtuous but he acquaints with evil little creatures. You would expect the Lilliputians to be kind and loving because of their size and Gulliver to be mean and aggressive, but being a change from the norm, the characteristics have been swapped. You would think that the Lilliputians are helpless and could never hurt someone by the quote,’ I was in the utmost astonishment, and roared so loud, that they all ran back in a fright…’ That quote shows that the Lilliputians are endearing little creatures and that they couldn’t even hurt a fly but as the story progresses the little beings get more vicious and start wars because of silly reasons. Gulliver is found by two small Lilliputians. These small little men are voracious and ravenous for wealth as their plan was to make money off this extraordinary figure, but when the Majesty saw everything the two Lilliputians manipulated their plan so that it meant that they wanted to give it to the Majesty.
The following quote,’… some of them had the imprudence to shoot their arrows at me as I sate on the ground by the door of my house; whereof one very narrowly missed my left eye,’ shows that the Lilliputians are short-tempered and are willing to do anything to get what they want and sometimes fight for no reason. In the following quote a war starts off due to a law which many resented, ‘Which two mighty powers have, as I was going to tell you, been engaged in a most obstinate war for six-and-thirty moons past. It began upon the following occasion. It is allowed on all hands, that the primitive way of breaking eggs, before we eat them, was upon the larger end; but his present majesty’s grandfather, while he was a boy, going to eat an egg, and breaking it according to the ancient practice, happened to cut one of his fingers. Whereupon the emperor his father published an edict, commanding all his subjects, upon great penalties, to break the smaller end of their eggs.
The people so highly resented this law, that our histories tell us, there have been six rebellions raised on that account; wherein one emperor lost his life, and another his crown.’ In that quote what is said that six rebellions broke out because people had been told that the law had changed and they now had to crack their eggs in the smaller end. This silly law sparked off a war, which wasn’t needed over such a petty argument. It shows how hungry for war Lilliputians are. Also Lilliput’s way of choosing ministers or promoting them or demoting them is done by a strange method of which each participant must jump over or under or in any manner pass a rod as elegantly or dynamically possibly in which they are judged for their grace. The Majesty thought that it was best that Gulliver chose the punishment. This is the quote in which Gulliver decides upon on what to do with the ringleaders,’… I took them all in my right hand, put five of them into my coat-pocket; and as to the sixth, I made a countenance as if I would eat him alive.’
In that quote Gulliver didn’t do anything to them he only faked the eating of the Lilliputian, Gulliver is a kind and caring man, although they were aggressive, it is not his nature to hurt people. Normally Gulliver would eat them or kill as he is a giant, but this being and inverted fairytale Gulliver is benevolent. Also Lilliput’s way of choosing ministers or promoting them or demoting them is done by a strange method of which each participant must jump over or under or in any manner pass a rod as elegantly or as dynamically possible in which they are judged for their method. This way of choosing ministers to maintain a ‘parliament’ was profound, as it needed no education for their job. This way was corrupt and anyone could have power and control and not just for good reasons as they can pervert their country as the wrong people could get the position. In the voyage to Lilliput, Swift was trying to emphasise on how humans are very much alike the Lilliputians. In that we fight for asinine reasons and that rationality cannot be used to solve problems. Instead humans must start war rather than have peace and help others in life instead of killing them.
The Giants Have More Insight Than Man – Brobdingnag
The second voyage for Gulliver was an encounter with the land of Brobdingnag. Brobdingnag in some sense was alike Lilliput but different in many others. The creatures in Brobdingnag were giant humans and Gulliver was about the size of a Lilliputian, so essentially the sizes of Gulliver have been swapped so he is in small in a big world, rather than big in a small world in Lilliput. When Gulliver reached Brobdingnag he noticed that large creatures surrounded him. Gulliver was frightened and intimidated by their size yet also interested. He was also aghast by the sight of the beings by Gulliver saying,’ I was struck with the utmost fear and astonishment, and ran to hide myself in the corn, whence I saw him at the top of the stile looking back into the next field on the right hand, and heard him call in a voice many degrees louder than a speaking-trumpet: but the noise was so high in the air, that at first I certainly thought it was thunder.’
The above quote shows how timorous Gulliver is. England. The Brobdingnagians have solutions to all of our problems that are present in Gulliver’s England. The giants feel that money isn’t needed and it will only cause greed and poverty if it was imperative it is shown by the quote,’ I took a purse of gold out of my pocket, and humbly presented it to him. He received it on the palm of his hand, then applied it close to his eye to see what it was, and afterwards turned it several times with the point of a pin (which he took out of his sleeve,) but could make nothing of it. Whereupon I made a sign that he should place his hand on the ground. I then took the purse, and, opening it, poured all the gold into his palm.
There were six Spanish pieces of four pistoles each, beside twenty or thirty smaller coins. I saw him wet the tip of his little finger upon his tongue, and take up one of my largest pieces, and then another; but he seemed to be wholly ignorant what they were.’ In the following quote Gulliver describes the creatures,’ Whereupon seven monsters, like himself, came towards him with reaping-hooks in their hands, each hook about the largeness of six scythe. In the above quote Gulliver is revolted by the not so well clad giants and says that the creatures are monsters, which shows that Gulliver isn’t fond of the human body. The Brobdingnagians were easy-going and kind and their look didn’t compare to their personality in any way. The Brobdingnagians didn’t understand the need for enemies as they thought that having enemies would make life pointless. Many of the Brobdingnagians were disgusted when Gulliver talked about England and how the country was run.
The following quote shows that England was not a very well run country and the ministers were corrupt and mischievous in their work,’ The king was struck with horror at the description I had given him.’ The people of Brobdingnag didn’t understand the point of doing what people in England were undertaking. In Brobdingnag Swift tries to show through Gulliver how mean humans can be to one another and destroy each other. In Brobdingnag, Swift clearly criticises the ministers and leaders of the land. He uses Gulliver to portray some of the nature that takes place in England. The same point is being shown in Lilliput as well. Gulliver spurns on the way of the English Parliament run the country. He tries to uncover the scantiness of England through Gulliver and the Majesty of Brobdingnag showing how horrified she is by Gulliver’s way of life in England.
The Beasts Rule – Houyhnhnms
The last voyage for Gulliver sees finds himself on a rather strange island where horses rule the yahoos (yahoos coming across as humans). His first sight of an inhabitant was of the Yahoo. He thought it was a monstrosity that a creature of that appearance could actually exist. That disgust is shown in the following quote,’ I fell into a beaten road, where I saw many tracts of human feet, and some of cows, but most of horses. At last I beheld several animals in a field, and one or two of the same kind sitting in trees. Their shape was very singular and deformed, which a little discomposed me, so that I lay down behind a thicket to observe them better. Some of them coming forward near the place where I lay, gave me an opportunity of distinctly marking their form.’ The Yahoos acts and appearances are portraying humans from Swift’s view on them.
On the contrary, when he sees the Houyhnhnms he is impressed and full of delight, this is shown in the following quote,’ But looking on my left hand, I saw a horse walking softly in the field; which my persecutors having sooner discovered, was the cause of their flight. The horse started a little, when he came near me, but soon recovering himself, looked full in my face with manifest tokens of wonder; he viewed my hands and feet, walking round me several times. I would have pursued my journey, but he placed himself directly in the way, yet looking with a very mild aspect, never offering the least violence.’ The Houyhnhnms are clever horses and are very knowledgeable. Swift shows this because he wants to prove that animals aren’t just around to be eaten and to be ridden and then when useless to be killed and thrown away for dog meat. He tries to say that animals have feelings as well and they aren’t just in the world to always follow rules by humans.
They aren’t just a horse and that is what one shouldn’t be perceive them as, they are living and don’t always want to be bossed around. The Houyhnhnms don’t have emotions yet their way of life is much better as they also propose the same views of the common Brobdingnagian- they don’t see the point in committing sins and starting wars and fights etc. The Houyhnhnms see the Yahoos as greedy, savage, and vile creatures, this being the criticism of a human and the disgust that Swift sees in humans. He uses a horse to show how shocking a human can actually be. The horses are near perfect as they don’t even have a word for the term ‘lie’ which shows just how honest their society is, and on the contrary how corrupt the English one is.
Degraded And Enslaved – Humans
Throughout Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift has been outlining and uncovering all of the flaws a human can have. He criticises human nature and how corrupt and dishonest it is compared to the Brobdingnag and Houyhnhnms society, which is near perfect in every way where poverty, hunger, and greed doesn’t exist. He talks many aspects within society and criticising it to its deepest depth and proving how distasteful human nature can be. The last voyage is the one that really stirs Gulliver up which makes him sometimes wish he was a Houyhnhnm due to their perfect society. Gulliver’s feelings for humans have drastically changed and he now sees them to be malicious, conniving, corrupt, disgusting humans can truly be at their potential.
My View On P. Colum’s Thoughts
I completely agree with P. Colum’s statement as the whole book is a fairytale inverted, this is shown by the small Lilliputians going to war, the giants are clever and more insight shown by their diminutive knowledge of war and their society having equals throughout and not having poverty or hunger within their society, and finally the Houyhnhnms ruling the Yahoos (who represent humans), yet the horses still treat the Yahoos adequately, when in England horses are just ridden until age as surpassed themselves and they are of no use. Also I also agree with Colum saying that humanity is degraded and enslaved because humans do take advantage of power and greed is something that triumphs over good will. Humans can’t escape selfishness, corruption and malice for they have trapped themselves within these sins.