Last Updated 26 Jan 2021

The Gulliver’s Travels

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Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

The Gulliver's Travels is a satire done by Jonathan Swift, who is among the great authors in the fields of drama, prose and poetry. This was a collection of tales written during the Augustan Age, which can be referred to as the neo classical age, the age of Queen Anne, the age of pope or simply the 18th Century, in England. Satire was developed in Rome by Juvenal, Persius and Horace.

The elements of satire as a style makes it the best of Jonathan Swift's writing skill employed in the Gulliver's Travel to help him achieve his goal; not to earn a living from writing as most of his articles were published anonymously, but to attack thin learning, to show his audience how a Christian should live and attacks man's ability to reason.

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The tales in this book show Swift's view of man as a weak and selfish character, one not in a position to make the right decisions when faced with challenges. Swift believes that man can find neither peace nor prosperity via his natural goodness and reason, but strongly believes that religion, through the church would keep man from destroying himself.

He is considered a misanthrope and satirist at the same time as he narrates the political, religious, educational and economical values of the Great Britain and its relationship to Ireland through the four books that are classified according to the voyages he made as Lemuel Gulliver, the narrator. The element of setting and era is represented by the voyages by sea, either in fictional places, as shown by his visit to Lillipu, Brobdingnag, Laputa and the land of the Houyhnhmns or real countries like Japan and England made by Lemuel Gulliver.

Gulliver is introduced as an Englishman, whose background is in medicine, navigation and mathematics. He comes out as a character who loves to travel and learn about people and his character is honest, naïve and uses his common sense in order to survive in various life threatening situations, like the case when he finally regains his consciousness after sleeping for long hours and finds himself tied up by the Lilliputians.

Realism is used to explain how Gulliver finally finds himself in Lilliput, the land of the small people, almost six inches tall. This was as a result of the wreckage of his ship, Antelope, in which he served as a surgeon. Traveller narrative was the form through which Swift expressed his criticism and satire since his audience enjoyed reading about explorations and discoveries of new lands. Through Lilliput, Swift uses Gulliver to gain the confidence of his readers as they associate with Gulliver's honesty, naivety and peace loving nature.

It is at this point where Gulliver uses common sense to survive instead of being violent. He gains the King's trust and is the granted his freedom and engages on the political structure and situation in Lilliput. The people here are prone to jealousy and conspiracy, with a division which they refer to as the Big-endians and Small-endians. These help illustrate the political and religious disputes in England.

The Lilliputian Empire is a satire of King George the 1st; the king with his nationality as a German, who through marriage succeeded Queen Anne's throne. The empire, like King George, uses the blue, red and green ribbons during the rope dance to buy political support. This was the same case as that in England where the Garter, Bath and Thistle were used. Gulliver thought that the rope dance was not as effective as religious qualifications or reason to entrust a person in any leadership position.

Gulliver proceeds to show that Flimnap the Lilliputian treasurer was the best rope dancer. This is his worst enemy both politically and at personal levels. It is evident that he compares him with Robert Walpole, the 1st England prime minister who had ruled for more than twenty years. Here, Gulliver and Flimnap represent the Tori and Whig parties respectively.

The Tori party is shown as the party that believed in the power of the King and the church and usually honest and transparent in their discussions for they were for the good of everyone. The Whigs on the other hand were for the argument that there was need for a parliament to check on the powers of the King.

The Emperor ensured that Lilliput was safe from the Blufascu, the Big-endians.The disagreement between the small-endians and the bigiendians has a history that relates well with that of England's religious dispute. King Henry VII, the father to Queen Elizerbeth is presented as a satire to show how he broke the Catholic hold of England when he created the Church of England. Gulliver does not see any reason for the disputes and refuses to be used as a weapon of war against Blufascu, but agrees to help them stop the war and is given the greatest tittle in Lilliput as the Nardac.

This was the same case during the treaty of Utrecht, that though stoped the war, it was questionable. An illustration similar to this is when Gulliver urinates on the palace to save it from burning and yet it was against the rules of Lilliput to make water around the palace, yet he had saved the empiror's life, the empress among alongside some officials including Flimnap were angry with his behavior and wanted him executed as a punishment.

The reader would agree with Gulliver for using any means available to save the emperor's life despite the method used and that it doesn't matter which side of the egg should be broken before eating it. It is also possible that the reader would agree with Gulliver's view of not being used as a weapon of mass destruction during war and that any nation lucky to have such a weapon should use it for encouraging peace. The same could be argued for the case of the both the Catholic and Protestants on basis of religion as they represent Big and Small Endians respectively.

Gulliver agrees to pay a visit to Blufascu when her citizens come to negotiate for peace. When Gulliver heard about the Lilliputian's plot to blind him and starve him to death instead of killing him at once, he ran away to Blufascu. This is a frown upon Bolingbroke and Oxford's impeachment when it was agreed they be accused of misdemeanors as opposed to treason. For the fear of trial, they run for refuge in France. It is evident that Gulliver was large and with a great potential here to choose violence, instead chose peace.

He then finds his way into an English ship headed back to England from Japan along the South Seas and to show realism indicates the date as 13th April 1702, then organizes yet another adventure to India on 16th June 1703, where following strong winds and twenty days of lost direction discover land, Brabdingnag. Brabdingnag, the land of the giants is used to show how disgusting people are, especially how the human body smells and man's ignorance.

This was Swift's chance to express his feelings that there would be much larger forces that could potentially put an end to the world stage of English dominance. The Brabdingnagians are represented here as peaceful and whose simple rules are based on reason. He uses the King to question the English leadership and takes the chance of the King's inquisitive nature to explain the politics, social and economic status of England.

The questions included how the nobles were educated, their nature, whether greedy or corrupt, the basis of bishops' promotions and if this was based on religion or goodness and knowledge, whether the house of commons' members spent much money to be elected, whether justice was time and money intensive for the citizens to have, and lastly, he was also interested to know whether lawyers valued money and pleaded for wrong causes.

As Gulliver explained some of the questions, the king wondered how a small man's society, the size of Gulliver would think of gun powder to produce such an instrument that would destroy so many lives. Those ruling the English society are expressed as ignorant, vice and idle through Gulliver's stay at Brabdingnag. Gulliver is not happy when the King laughs about England based on the fact that he never imagined that such small people had tittles, distinctions and that they built nests and holes that they called houses and cities.

The queen also criticized Gulliver for cowardice when he was uncomfortable with the flies that he describes as disgusting, with a terrible smell. Though they were loving and kind to him, he was not comfortable living a humiliating life and disliked the greedy nature of the farmer who focuses on profit from showing Gulliver to audience at the expense of his health then sells him when sick to the queen.

Some of the Brabdingnagians were caring like Glundalclitch, his nurse who had nicknamed him Grildrig. She was not as ignorant, but at some times, she had left Gulliver unguarded at the palace and a guard's dog had picked and delivered him to its master. Had the dog not been trained, it would have caused him his life.

Gludalclitch's friend was ignorant when given the responsibility to take Gulliver to the sea, a mistake that had given the eagles a chance to grab Gulliver's travelling box and latter dropped into the sea, rescued by the ship crew and a caring captain who offers him food and rest in his cabin as opposed to the rest of the crew that had so many questions for him. Gulliver makes yet another voyage that lands him to Laputa, the floating island, after his ship is attacked by pirates. In Laputa, pursuit of knowledge in music, science and philosophy is held at high esteem while people neglect their social affairs and common sense.

The obsessed Laputian men neglect their wives to their obsession for astronomy that the sun might burn out and hence their wives become adulterous with men from Balnibarbi, an earth-bound city, that have no such preoccupations. He observes that even with their knowledge, they have unfitting clothes, build houses that lack accurate right angles, and the experiments that are carried out by the Projectors at Lugado are almost impossible to achieve and a waste of their knowledge and resources.

This projects include the recovery of sun beams from cucumbers, converting human excrement to the food from which it was digested, manufacture of silk from cobwebs, rooftop downwards construction of houses and writing books without exerting ones brains on various subjects. He challenges the academic intellectuals and planners who engage in the pursuit of theories that are practically useless in England, a mockery of the loyal society's absurd inventions at that time.

The Laputa king uses the floating island as a weapon to threaten and intimidate the cities bellow so that they can provide food and the necessities of life on the floating island. Failure to this, the island would be used to cut off rain and sunshine on such cities or even crush it by landing the floating island on those cities or using bombs. The city of Lindalino successfully revolts and the attempts to lower the floating island on it had been unsuccessful.

This is an allegory of the revolt that Ireland makes against England's adopted international and foreign violent politics. Gulliver feels neglected by the people at Laputa for they value the knowledge of both music and mathematics, which he does not have. The King allowed him to travel to Balnibarbi where he meets Lord Munodi at Lagado. Among the houses in Lagado, only Munodi's was beautiful and well kept.

This was as a result of a travel to Laputa made by the people of Lagado that motivated them to open an academy and develop new theories in Agriculture and Mathematics that ruined their land's productivity except that of Munodi who had refused and only followed the theories passed down from his ancestors. Gulliver is disappointed that resources are being used to fund unhealthy and unrealistic projects while the citizens are suffering in both poverty and hunger and decides to go back to England through Japan.

The academy of Lagado is used to eplain how the Royal Society of Dublin misused funds allocated due to the hunger for inventions in England. This was the time of great Physicians, Mathematicians and Astronauts including Newton, who concentrated on inventions only to forget about their social life. The projects in the Royal Society of Dublin were used as means to acquire wealth and the arm-chair technicians among other hosts of mad inventions that resulted into financial crisis among which was the South Sea Bubble.

The desire of humans to reverse both the past and historical figures is criticized for he reminds his audience that they were normal people. Immortality is also mocked since the people who possess this thought noble gift are presented as selfish, petty and eternally sad. Gulliver never liked the life in this part of the world and decided to return to England through the island of Luggnagg.

There is no ship ready at Balnibarbi to take him to Luggnagg and together with two friends from Maldonada port city; he tours Glubbdubdrb Island, the land of magicians, headed by a governor with the power to summon the spirit of the dead for a twenty four hour service at his palace. Gulliver befriends the governor and is allowed to call any person from the dead and ask them questions only if he agreed to confine his questions to the period when they were still alive.

He summons famous heroes starting with Alexander the Great, the conqueror of both the Greece and Percia, followed by Hannibal who concurred Romans by crossing into North Italy from North Africa through Alps, Julius Caesar who, first Roman Emperor alongside his rivalry Pompey the Great and Marcus Junius Brutus who was responsible for Caesar's assassination to help prevent the development of a hereditary monarchy in the Roman Republic.

Satire in Glubdubdrib is used to show that history actually lies and that those who kill tyrants as they seek freedom should be appreciated. He really encourages the terrible suggestion that one would do the right thing by assassinating King George 1. This is evident where Julius actually confesses that there was nothing braver or even better that he did than what Brutus did by assassinating him for the sake of the Roman Republic..

Gulliver also shows the need to learn from smart people in the society, but being cautious not to be misled by the stupid people who write commentary. People who like Eustathius and Didymus become famous for commenting on Homer's literature works. The same case applied to John Duns who is famous for commenting on the literature works of Aristotle. Both Homer and Aristotle are not aware of people who became famous as a result of commenting on their works.

Through this, Gulliver advocates for people becoming famous by their original contributions in literature and ethical models, as opposed to their endless talks about those developed by other people. He supports applied learning just as he opposes the Royal Academy of projectors and strongly encourages useful learning in England, which practical philosophy and applied science are examples.

He then goes back to England and becomes captain of his own ship from which he is marooned on Houyhnhnm Island, land of the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos.The first encounter with the Yahoos, with physical appearance as that of man, violent, brutal, cowardly hairy but naked symbolizes the follies in human beings. Houyhnhnms on the other hand are reasonable and smart horses that. This is the only place that Gulliver

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