Human being hypostases in "Gulliver’s travels" by Johnatan Swift
The Faculty of Foreign
Languages and Literatures
The Department of
Human being hypostases in “Gulliver’s travels” by Johnatan
III- d year student, group 394
Chapter I: General background of the
18th century English literature
1.1. The consolidation of the
1.2.Johnatan Swift –a great
pamphleteer of his age
Chapter II: Hyman being hypostases in “Gulliver’s
Travels” by Johnatan Swift
2.1. The protagonist presentation .
2.2. The changing hypostases of the protagonist
of this course paper is to investigate the human being hypostases as
presented in Johnathan Swift’s great work “Gulliver’s travels”.
Gulliver’s Travels was a controversial work when it was first
published in 1726. In fact, it was not until almost
ten years after its first printing that the book appeared with the entire text
that Swift had originally intended it to have. Ever since, editors have excised
many of the passages, particularly the more caustic ones dealing with bodily
functions. Even without those passages, however, Gulliver’s
Travels serves as a biting satire, and Swift ensures that it is both
humorous and critical, constantly attacking British and European society
through its descriptions of imaginary countries.
Gulliver’s Travels is about a specific set of political conflicts, but
if it were nothing more than that it would long ago have been forgotten. The
staying power of the work comes from its depiction of the human condition and
its often despairing, but occasionally hopeful, sketch of the possibilities for
humanity to rein in its baser instincts.
the novel was to be the story of an imaginary world voyage by a certain Martin
Scriblerus, but in the interval between 1720-1726 Swift had changed the name of
the hero to Lemuel Gulliver”.
In this course- paper we tried to review the following points: the
presentation of the time when the novel “Gulliver’s Travels” was written, the
explanation of the literary term - the novel, also an important part in this
course-paper takes the biography and the literary activity of such a great
pamphleteer as Johnatan Swift.
The second part of the course-paper is composed of two parts: in the
first one is presented the protagonist of the story- Lemuel Gulliver, his
character and the main facts about his life; the second one is about the human
metamorphoses happened with the protagonist of the novel. In this part are
disclosed the main metamorphoses, which had changed the life and the internal
world of the main character.
General background of the 18th century English literature
POLITICAL CONDITIONS. During the first part of
the eighteenth century the direct connection between politics and literature
was closer than at any previous period of English life; for the practical
spirit of the previous generation continued to prevail, so that the chief
writers were very ready to concern themselves with the affairs of State, and in
the uncertain strife of parties ministers were glad to enlist their aid. On the
death of King William in 1702, Anne, sister of his wife Queen Mary and daughter
of James II, became Queen. Unlike King William she was a Tory and at first
filled offices with members of that party. But the “Whigs supported the English
campaigns under the Duke of Marlborough against Louis XIV”,
who therefore gradually regained control, and in 1708 the Queen had to submit
to a Whig ministry. She succeeded in ousting them in 1710, and a Tory cabinet
was formed by Henry Harley (afterwards Earl of Oxford) and Henry St. John
(afterwards Viscount Bolingbrook). On the death of Anne in 1714 Bolingbrook,
with other Tories, was intriguing for a second restoration of the Stuarts in
the person of the son of James II (the 'Old Pretender'). But the nation decided
for a “Protestant German prince, a descendant of James I through his daughter
Elizabeth”, and this
prince was crowned as George I--an event which brought England peace at the
price of a century of rule by an unenlightened and sordid foreign dynasty. The
Tories were violently turned out of office; Oxford was imprisoned, and
Bolingbrook, having fled to the Pretender, was declared a traitor. Ten years
later he was allowed to come back and attempted to oppose Robert Walpole, the
Whig statesman who for twenty years governed England in the name of the first
two Georges; but in the upshot Bolingbrook was again obliged to retire to
France. How closely these events were connected with the fortunes of the
foremost authors we shall see as we proceed.
THE GENERAL SPIRIT OF THE PERIOD. The writers of the reigns
of Anne and George I called their period the Augustan Age, because they
flattered themselves that with them English life and literature had reached a
culminating period of civilization and elegance corresponding to that which
existed at Rome under the Emperor Augustus. They believed also that both in the
art of living and in literature they had rediscovered and were practicing the
principles of the best periods of Greek and Roman life. In our own time this
judgment appears equally arrogant and mistaken. In reality the men of the early
eighteenth century, like those of the Restoration, largely misunderstood the
qualities of the classical spirit, and thinking to reproduce them attained only
a superficial, pseudo-classical, imitation. The main characteristics of the
period and its literature continue, with some further development, those of the
Restoration, and may be summarily indicated as follows:
was largely centered in the practical well being either of society as a whole
or of one's own social class or set. The majority of writers, furthermore,
belonged by birth or association to the upper social stratum and tended to
overemphasize its artificial conventions, often looking with contempt on the
other classes. To them conventional good breeding, fine manners, the pleasures of
the leisure class, and the standards of 'The Town' (fashionable London society) were
the only part of life much worth regarding.
men of this age carried still further the distrust and dislike felt by the
previous generation for emotion, enthusiasm, and strong individuality both in
life and in literature, and exalted Reason and Regularity as their guiding
stars. The terms 'decency' and 'neatness' were forever on their lips. They
sought a conventional uniformity in manners, speech, and indeed in nearly
everything else, and were uneasy if they deviated far from the approved,
respectable standards of the body of their fellows. Great poetic imagination,
therefore, could scarcely exist among them, or indeed supreme greatness of any
had little appreciation for external Nature or for any beauty except that of
formalized Art. A forest seemed to most of them merely wild and gloomy, and
great mountains chiefly terrible, but they took delight in gardens of
artificially trimmed trees and in regularly plotted and alternating beds of domestic
flowers. The Elizabethans also, as we have seen, had had much more feeling for
the terror than for the grandeur of the sublime in Nature, but the Elizabethans
had had nothing of the elegant primness of the Augustans.
speech and especially in literature, most of all in poetry, they were given to
abstractness of thought and expression, intended to secure elegance, but often
serving largely to substitute superficiality for definiteness and significant
meaning. They abounded in personifications of abstract qualities and ideas
('Laughter, heavenly maid,' Honor, Glory, Sorrow, and so on, with prominent
capital letters), a sort of a pseudo-classical substitute for emotion.
were still more fully confirmed than the men of the Restoration in the
conviction that the ancients had attained the highest possible perfection in
literature, and some of them made absolute submission of judgment to the
ancients, especially to the Latin poets and the Greek, Latin, and also the
seventeenth century classicizing French critics. Some authors seemed timidly to
desire to be under authority and to glory in surrendering their independence,
individuality, and originality to foreign and long-established leaders and
these circumstances the effort to attain the finished beauty of classical
literature naturally resulted largely in a more or less shallow formal
was a strong tendency to moralizing, which also was not altogether free from
conventionality and superficiality.
the 'Augustan Age' must be considered to end before the middle of the century,
the same spirit continued dominant among many writers until near its close, so
that almost the whole of the century may be called the period of
1.1. The consolidation of the novel.
A novel (from French nouvelle Italian
"novella", "new") is an extended, generally fictional narrative, typically in prose. Until the eighteenth
century, the word referred specifically to short fictions of love and intrigue as opposed to romances, which were epic-length works about
love and adventure. Novels are
generally between 60,000-200,000 words, or 300-1,300 pages, in length. During
the 18th century the novel adopted features of the old romance and became one
of the major literary
genres. It is today defined mostly by its ability to become the
object of literary criticism demanding artistic merit and a
specific 'literary' style—or specific literary styles.
The English novel was for the most the product of the middle
class. It called attention to middle class ideas and sensibilities. The
protagonist is no more a refinied aristokrat dealing with extraordinally
circumstances, but a borgeois trying to find his or her place in the society.
“In 18th century English literature developed several
types of novel: novel of adventures, best exemplified by D.Defoe’s
“Robinson Crusoe”; satirical novel,its finest exponent being J.Swift
with “Gulliver’s Travels”; picaresque novel, illustrated by Defoe’s
“Moll Flanders”, H.Fielding’s “Tom Jones”; epistolary novel, its
greatest master being S.Richardson with “Pamella and Clarissa”; sentimental
novel, developad by L.Sterne in ”Tristam Shandy”, “A Sentimental Journey”; gothic
novel, its first practitioner being H. Walpole with “The Castle of
Otranto”; novel of manners, raised to a new level of art by J.Austen in
“Pride and Prejudice”; anti-novel, practised by L.Sterne in “Tristram
One meaning of the English word novel has remained stable:
"novel" can still signify what is new owing to its
"novelty". When it comes to fiction, however, the meaning of the term
has changed over time:
“The period 1200-1750 saw a rise of the novel (originally a short
piece of fiction) rivaling the romance (the epic-length performance). This
development, which one could describe as the first rise of the novel, occurred
across Europe, though only the Spanish and the English went one step further
and allowed the word novel (Spanish: novela) to become their
regular term for fictional narratives.
The period 1700-1800 saw the rise of a "new romance" in
reaction to the production of potentially scandalous novels. The movement
encountered a complex situation in the English market, where the term "new
romance" could hardly be ventured, after the novel had done so much to
transform taste. The new genre also adopted the name novel: this new
novel was a work of new epic proportions, with the effect that the English (and
Spanish) eventually needed new word for the original short "novel":
The term novella was created to fill
the gap in English; "short story"
brought a further refinement”.
“The meaning of the term "romance" changed within the
same complex process, becoming the word for a love story whether in life or
fiction. Other meanings include the musicologist's genre "Romance" of a short
and amiable piece, or Romance languages for
the languages derived from Latin
(French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, and Portuguese)”.
We have traced the literary production of the eighteenth
century in many different forms, but it still remains to speak of one of the
most important, the novel, which in the modern meaning of the word had its
origin not long before 1750. Springing at that time into apparently sudden
popularity, it replaced the drama as the predominant form of literature and has
continued such ever since. The reasons are not hard to discover. The drama is
naturally the most popular literary form in periods like the Elizabethan when
the ability (or inclination) to read is not general, when men are dominated by
the zest for action, and when cities have become sufficiently large to keep the
theaters well filled. It is also the natural form in such a period as that of
the Restoration, when literary life centers about a frivolous upper class who
demand an easy and social form of entertainment. But the condition is very
different when, as in the eighteenth and still more in the nineteenth century,
the habit of reading, and some recognition of its educating influence, had
spread throughout almost all classes and throughout the country, creating a
public far too large, too scattered, and too varied to gain access to the
London and provincial theaters or to find all their needs supplied by a
somewhat artificial literary form. The novel, on the other hand, gives a much
fuller portrayal of life than does the drama, and allows the much more detailed
analysis of characters and situations which the modern mind has come more and
more to demand.
novel, which for our present purpose must be taken to include the romance, is,
of course, only a particular and highly developed kind of long story, one of
the latest members of the family of fiction, or the larger family of narrative,
in prose and verse. The medieval romances, for example, included most of the
elements of the novel, even, sometimes, psychological analysis; but the
romances usually lacked the unity, the complex and careful structure, the
thorough portrayal of character, and the serious attention to the real problems
of life which in a general way distinguish the modern novel. Much the same is
true of the Elizabethan 'novels,' which, besides, were generally short as well
as of small intellectual and ethical caliber. During the Restoration period and
a little later there began to appear several kinds of works, which perhaps
looked more definitely toward the later novel. Banyan’s religious allegories
may likely enough have had a real influence on it, and there were a few English
tales and romances of chivalry, and a few more realistic pieces of fiction.
“The habit of journal writing and the letters about London life sent by some
persons in the city to their friends in the country should also be mentioned.
The De Coverly papers in 'The Spectator' approach distinctly toward the novel.
They give real presentation of both characters and setting (social life) and
lack only connected treatment of the story (of Sir Roger). Defoe's fictions,
picaresque tales of adventure, come still closer, but lack the deeper artistic
and moral purpose and treatment suggested a moment ago”.
The case is not very different with Swift's 'Gulliver's Travels,' which,
besides, is primarily a satire. Substantially, therefore, all the materials
were now ready, awaiting only the fortunate hand that should arrange and shape
them into a real novel. This proved to be the hand of a rather unlikely person,
the outwardly commonplace printer, Samuel Richardson.
1.2. JOHNATHAN SWIFT - A GREAT PAMPHLETEER OF
doctrine was that virtue is the one thing which deserves love and admiration,
and yet that virtue in this hideous chaos of a world involves misery and decay”.
one of the best representatives in English literature of sheer intellectual
power, but his character, his aims, his environment, and the circumstances of
his life denied to him also literary achievement of the greatest permanent
significance. Johnathan Swift (November 30,
1667 – October 19, 1745) was an Irish cleric, satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for
Whigs then for Tories), and poet, famous for works like Gulliver's
Modest Proposal, A
Journal to Stella, The
Drapier's Letters, The
Battle of the Books, and A Tale of a Tub. Swift is
probably the foremost prose satirist in the English language, although
he is less well known for his poetry.
Swift published all of his works under pseudonyms — such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, M.B.
Drapier — or anonymously. He is also known for being “a master of 2
styles of satire; the Horatian
though of unmixed English descent, related to both Dryden and Robert Herrick,
was born in Ireland, in 1667. Brought up in poverty by his widowed mother, he
spent the period between his fourteenth and twentieth years recklessly and
without distinction at Trinity College, Dublin. From the outbreak attending the
Revolution of 1688 he fled to England, where for the greater part of nine years
he lived in the country as a sort of secretary to the retired statesman, Sir
William Temple, who was his distant relative by marriage. Here he had plenty of
time for reading, but the position of dependence and the consciousness that his
great though still unformed powers of intellect and of action were rusting away
in obscurity undoubtedly did much to increase the natural bitterness of his
disposition. As the result of a quarrel he left Temple for a time and took holy
orders, and on the death of Temple he returned to Ireland as chaplain to the
English Lord Deputy. He was eventually given several small livings and other
church positions in and near Dublin, and at one of these, Laracor, he made his
home for another nine years. During all this period and later the Miss Esther
Johnson whom he has immortalized as 'Stella' holds a prominent place in his
life.” A girl of technically gentle birth, she also had been a member of Sir
William Temple's household, was infatuated with Swift, and followed him to
Ireland. About their intimacy there has always hung a mystery. It has been held
that after many years they were secretly married, but this is probably a
mistake; the essential fact seems to be that Swift, with characteristic
selfishness, was willing to sacrifice any other possible prospects of 'Stella'
to his own mere enjoyment of her society. It is certain, however, that he both
highly esteemed her and reciprocated her affection so far as it was possible
for him to love any woman”.
1704 Swift published his first important works (written earlier, while he was
living with Temple), which are among the masterpieces of his satirical genius.
In 'The Battle of the Books' he supports Temple, who had taken the side of the
Ancients in a hotly debated and very futile quarrel then being carried on by
French and English writers as to whether ancient or modern authors are the
greater. 'The Tale of a Tub' is a keen, coarse, and violent satire on the
actual irreligion of all Christian Churches. It takes the form of a burlesque
history of three brothers, Peter (the Catholics, so called from St. Peter),
Martin (the Lutherans and the Church of England, named from Martin Luther), and
Jack (the Dissenters, who followed John Calvin); but a great part of the book
is made up of irrelevant introductions and digressions in which Swift ridicules
various absurdities, literary and otherwise, among them the very practice of
digressions. Swift's instinctive dominating impulse was personal ambition, and
during this period he made long visits to London, attempting to push his
fortunes with the Whig statesmen, who were then growing in power; attempting,
that is, to secure a higher position in the Church; also, be it added, to get
relief for the ill-treated English Church in Ireland. He made the friendship of
Addison, who called him, perhaps rightly, 'the greatest genius of the age,' and
of Steele, but he failed of his main purposes; and when in 1710 the Tories
replaced the Whigs he accepted their solicitations and devoted his pen, already
somewhat experienced in pamphleteering, to their service. It should not be
overlooked that up to this time, when he was already more than forty years of
age, his life had been one of continual disappointment, so that he was already
greatly soured. Now, in conducting a paper, 'The Examiner,' and in writing
masterly political pamphlets, he found occupation for his tremendous energy and
gave very vital help to the ministers. During the four years of their control
of the government he remained in London on intimate terms with them, especially
with Bolingbrook and Harley, exercising a very large advisory share in the
bestowal of places of all sorts and in the general conduct of affairs. This was
Swift's proper sphere; in the realization and exercise of power he took a
fierce and deep delight. His bearing at this time too largely reflected the
less pleasant side of his nature, especially his pride and arrogance. “Yet
toward professed inferiors he could be kind; and real playfulness and
tenderness, little evident in most of his other writings, distinguish his
'Journal to Stella,' which he wrote for her with affectionate regularity,
generally every day, for nearly three years. The 'Journal' is interesting also
for its record of the minor details of the life of Swift and of London in his
day. His association, first and last, with literary men was unusually broad;
when politics estranged him from Steele and Addison he drew close to Pope and
other Tory writers in what they called the Scriblerus Club”.
Despite his political success, Swift was still unable to secure the definite
object of his ambition, a bishopric in England, since the levity with which he
had treated holy things in 'A Tale of a Tub' had hopelessly prejudiced Queen
Anne against him and the ministers could not act altogether in opposition to
her wishes. In 1713 he received the unwelcome gift of the deanship of St.
Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, and the next year, when the Queen died and the
Tory ministry fell, he withdrew to Dublin, as he himself bitterly said, 'to die
like a poisoned rat in a hole.'
Swift's personal life there were now events in which he again showed to very
little advantage. In London he had become acquainted with a certain Hester
Vanhomrigh, the 'Vanessa' of his longest poem, 'Cadenus and Vanessa' “in which
'Cadenus' is an anagram of 'Decanus,' Latin for 'Dean,' i. e., Swift”.
Miss Vanhomrigh, like 'Stella,' was infatuated with Swift, and like her
followed him to Ireland, and for nine years, as has been said, he 'lived a
double life' between the two. 'Vanessa' then died, probably of a broken heart,
and 'Stella' a few years later. Over against this conduct, so far as it goes,
may be set Swift's quixotic but extensive and “constant personal benevolence
and generosity to the poor”.
general, this last period of Swift's life amounted to thirty years of
increasing bitterness. He devoted some of his very numerous pamphlets to
defending the Irish, and especially the English who formed the governing class
in Ireland, against oppression by England. Most important here were 'The
Drapier's .’A Modest Proposal,' the proposal, namely, that the raising of
children for food, like pigs, should alleviate the misery of the poor in
Ireland is one of the most powerful, as well as one of the most horrible,
satires which ever issued from any human imagination. In 1726 (seven years
after 'Robinson Crusoe') appeared Swift's masterpiece, the only one of his
works still widely known, namely, 'The Travels of Lemuel Gulliver.' The
remarkable power of this unique work lies partly in its perfect combination of
two apparently inconsistent things, first, a story of marvelous adventure which
must always remain (in the first parts) one of the most popular of children's
classics; and second, a bitter satire against mankind. The intensity of the
satire increases as the work proceeds. In the first voyage, that to the
Lilliputians, the tone is one mainly of humorous irony; but in such passages as
the hideous description of the Struldbrugs in
the third voyage the cynical contempt is unspeakably painful, and from the
distorted libel on mankind in the Yahoos of
the fourth voyage a reader recoils in indignant disgust.
complexity of Swift's character and the great difference between the viewpoints
of his age and of ours make it easy at the present time to judge him with too
great harshness. Apart from his selfish egotism and his bitterness, his nature
was genuinely loyal, kind and tender to friends and connections; and he hated
injustice and the more flagrant kinds of hypocrisy with a sincere and
irrepressible violence. Whimsicalness and a contemptuous sort of humor were as
characteristic of him as biting sarcasm, and his conduct and writings often
veered rapidly from the one to the other in a way puzzling to one who does not
Nevertheless he was dominated by cold intellect and an instinct for the
practical. To show sentiment, except under cover, he regarded as a weakness,
and it is said that when he was unable to control it he would retire from observation.
He was ready to serve mankind to the utmost of his power when effort seemed to
him of any avail, and at times he sacrificed even his ambition to his
convictions; but he had decided that the mass of men were hopelessly foolish,
corrupt, and inferior, personal sympathy with them was impossible to him, and
his contempt often took the form of sardonic practical jokes, practiced
sometimes on a whole city. Of his extreme arrogance and brutality to those who
offended him there are numerous anecdotes; not least in the case of women, whom
he, like most men of his age, regarded as man's inferiors. He once drove a lady
from her own parlor in tears by violent insistence that she should sing,
against her will, and when he next met her, inquired, 'Pray, madam, are you as
proud and ill-natured to-day as when I saw you last?' It seems, indeed, that
throughout his life Swift's mind was positively abnormal, and this may help to
excuse the repulsive elements in his writings. For metaphysics and abstract
principles, it may be added, he had a bigoted antipathy. In religion he was a
staunch and sincere High Churchman, but it was according to the formal fashion
of many thinkers of his day; he looked on the Church not as a medium of
spiritual life, of which he, like his generation, had little conception, but as
one of the organized institutions of society, useful in maintaining decency and
'poems' require only passing notice. In any strict sense they are not poems at
all, since they are entirely bare of imagination, delicacy, and beauty. Instead
they exhibit the typical pseudo-classical traits of matter-of-factness and
clearness; also, as Swift's personal notes, cleverness, directness, trenchant
intellectual power, irony, and entire ease, to which latter the prevailing
octosyllabic couplet meter contributes. This is the meter of 'L'Allegro' and
'Il Penseroso,' and the contrast between these poems and Swift's is
prose style has substantially the same qualities. Writing generally as a man of
affairs, for practical ends, he makes no attempt at elegance and is informal
even to the appearance of looseness of expression. Of conscious refinements and
also, in his stories, of technical artistic structural devices, he has no
knowledge; he does not go out of the straight path in order to create suspense,
he does not always explain difficulties of detail, and sometimes his narrative
becomes crudely bare. He often displays the greatest imaginative power, but it
is always a practical imagination; his similes, for example, are always from
very matter-of-fact things. But more notable are his positive merits. He is
always absolutely clear, direct, and intellectually forceful; in exposition and
argument he is cumulatively irresistible; in description and narration
realistically picturesque and fascinating; and he has the natural instinct for
narration which gives vigorous movement and climax. Indignation and contempt
often make his style burn with passion, and humor, fierce or bitterly mirthful,
often enlivens it with startling flashes. “The great range of the satires which
make the greater part of Swift's work is supported in part by variety of satiric
method. Sometimes he pours out a savage direct attack. Sometimes, in a long
ironical statement, he says exactly the opposite of what he really means to
suggest. Sometimes he uses apparently logical reasoning where either, as in 'A
Modest Proposal,' the proposition, or, as in the 'Argument Against Abolishing
Christianity,' the arguments are absurd. He often shoots out incidental
humorous or satirical shafts”. But his
most important and extended method is that of allegory. The pigmy size of the
Lilliputians symbolizes the littleness of mankind and their interests; the
superior skill in rope-dancing which with them is the ground for political
advancement, the political intrigues of real men; and the question whether eggs
shall be broken on the big or the little end, which has embroiled Lilliput in a
bloody war, both civil and foreign, the trivial causes of European conflicts.
In Brobdingnag, on the other hand, the coarseness of mankind is exhibited by
the magnifying process. Swift, like Defoe, generally increases the
verisimilitude of his fictions and his ironies by careful accuracy in details,
which is sometimes arithmetically genuine, sometimes only a hoax. In Lilliput
all the dimensions are scientifically computed on a scale one-twelfth as large
as that of man; in Brobdingnag, by an exact reversal, everything is twelve
times greater than among men. But the long list of technical nautical terms,
which seem to make a spirited narrative at the beginning of the second of
Gulliver's voyages, is merely an incoherent hodge-podge.
then, is the greatest of English satirists and the only one who as a satirist
claims large attention in a brief general survey of English literature. He is
one of the most powerfully intellectual of all English writers, and the clear
force of his work is admirable; but being first a man of affairs and only
secondarily a man of letters, he stands only on the outskirts of real
literature. In his character the elements were greatly mingled, and in our
final judgment of him there must be combined something of disgust, something of
admiration, and not a little of sympathy and pity.
II. The human
being hypostases as presented in “Gulliver’s Travels”
is an unremarkable and unimaginative man from middle-class England. He is
morally upright and honest but, as his name suggests, somewhat gullible. As he
himself is honest, he naively assumes that everyone else is as honest, and
hence believes what he is told. He is an everyman through whose eyes the reader
sees and judges the people he encounters. Gulliver, as the name suggests, is
someone who is ‘gullible’. This gullible traveler has written a travelogue,
which consists of four different voyages: Each voyage appears to be entirely
different from the other three voyages. This is one of the reasons why Swift
has divided the voyages into four parts. Gulliver represents an everyman, a
middle-class Englishman who is fundamentally decent and well intentioned. In
the course of his travels, he becomes less tolerant and more judgmental of the
nations he visits and of his fellow human beings.
gullible, as his name suggests. For example, he misses the obvious ways in
which the Lilliputians exploit him.
While he is quite adept at navigational calculations and the humdrum details of
seafaring, he is far less able to reflect on himself or his nation in any
profoundly critical way”. Traveling
to such different countries and returning to England in between each
voyage, he seems poised to make some great anthropological speculations about
cultural differences around the world, about how societies are similar despite
their variations or different despite their similarities. But, frustratingly,
Gulliver gives us nothing of the sort. He provides us only with literal facts
and narrative events, never with any generalizing or philosophizing. He is a
self-hating, self-proclaimed Yahoo at the end, announcing his misanthropy quite
loudly, but even this attitude is difficult to accept as the moral of the
story. Gulliver is not a figure with whom we identify but, rather, part of the
array of personalities and behaviors about which we must make judgments.
function as a measuring stick is metonymic: he comes from the British
world--ostensibly the land of the Real--and so the British reader feels he can
be used to establish differences between the Real and the fantasy worlds he
visits. This process reflects the ideological construction of the British
Subject in the Colonial period. The aspect of the observed that can be measured
by Gulliver serves to organize and name the whole, excluding whatever remains.
In other words, just as a thermometer does not measure intelligence, the
yardstick of rationality Gulliver finally brings down on the Yahoos fails to
measure warmth, or any other human or British quality, if I can rightly call
warmth a British quality. Gulliver's journey becomes synecdochic when he serves
a role in the visited society and this role has a reciprocal effect on his own
character; he no longer can be said to function as a constant or impartial
measure. His trustworthiness as narrator is undermined and his representations
become opaque or fall under suspect. This blow to representation brings the
grotesque into play. As Gulliver changes scenes, the multiplicity of perspectives
forces an ironic mode on the reader, in which the grotesque gains destabilizing
“Although Gulliver is a bold
adventurer who visits a multitude of strange lands, it is difficult to regard
him as truly heroic. Even well before his slide into misanthropy at the end of
the book, he simply does not show the stuff of which grand heroes are made. He
is not cowardly—on the contrary, he undergoes the unnerving experiences of
nearly being devoured by a giant rat, taken captive by pirates, shipwrecked on
faraway shores, sexually assaulted by an eleven-year-old girl, and shot in the
face with poison arrows”.
Additionally, the isolation from humanity that he endures for sixteen years
must be hard to bear, though Gulliver rarely talks about such matters. Yet
despite the courage Gulliver shows throughout his voyages, his character lacks
basic greatness. This impression could be due to the fact that he rarely shows
his feelings, reveals his soul, or experiences great passions of any sort. But
other literary adventurers, like Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey, seem heroic without being particularly
open about their emotions.
most lacking in Gulliver is not courage or feelings, but drive. One modern
critic has described Gulliver as possessing the smallest will in all of Western
literature: he is simply devoid of a sense of mission, a goal that would make
his wandering into a quest. Odysseus’s goal is to get home again, Aeneas’s goal
in Virgil’s Aeneid is to found Rome, but
Gulliver’s goal on his sea voyage is uncertain. He says that he needs to make
some money after the failure of his business, but he rarely mentions finances
throughout the work and indeed almost never even mentions home. He has no
awareness of any greatness in what he is doing or what he is working toward. In
short, he has no aspirations. When he leaves home on his travels for the first
time, he gives no impression that he regards himself as undertaking a great
endeavor or embarking on a thrilling new challenge”.
We may also
note Gulliver’s lack of ingenuity and savvy. Other great travelers, such as
Odysseus, get themselves out of dangerous situations by exercising their wit
and ability to trick others. Gulliver seems too dull for any battles of wit and
too unimaginative to think up tricks, and thus he ends up being passive in most
of the situations in which he finds himself. He is held captive several times
throughout his voyages, but he is never once released through his own
stratagems, relying instead on chance factors for his liberation. Once
presented with a way out, he works hard to escape, as when he repairs the boat
he finds that delivers him from Blefuscu, but he is never actively ingenious in
attaining freedom. This example summarizes quite well Gulliver’s intelligence,
which is factual and practical rather than imaginative or introspective. Gulliver's journey becomes
synecdochic when he serves a role in the visited society and this role has a
reciprocal effect on his own character; he no longer can be said to function as
a constant or impartial measure. His trustworthiness as narrator is undermined
and his representations become opaque or fall under suspect. This blow to
representation brings the grotesque into play. As Gulliver changes scenes, the
multiplicity of perspectives forces an ironic mode on the reader, in which the
grotesque gains destabilizing power.
narrative begins much like other travel records of his time. The description of
his youth and education provides background knowledge, establishes Gulliver’s
position in English society, and causes the novel to resemble true-life
accounts of travels at sea published during Swift’s lifetime. Swift imitates
the style of a standard travelogue throughout the novel to heighten the satire.
Here he creates a set of expectations in our minds, namely a short-lived belief
in the truth of Gulliver’s observations. Later in the novel, Swift uses the
style of the travelogue to exaggerate the absurdity of the people and places
with which Gulliver comes into contact. “A fantastical style—one that made no
attempt to seem truthful, accurate, or traditional—would have weakened the
satire by making it irrelevant, but the factual, reportorial style of Gulliver’s Travels does the opposite”.
surprised to discover the Lilliputians but is not
particularly shocked. This encounter is only the first of many in the novel in
which we are asked to accept Gulliver’s extraordinary experiences as merely
unusual.” Seeing the world through Gulliver’s eyes, we also adopt, for a
moment, Gulliver’s view of the world. But at the same time, we can step back
and recognize that the Lilliputians are nothing
but a figment of Swift’s imagination”. The
distance between these two stances—the gullible Gulliver and the skeptical
reader—is where the narrative’s multiple levels of meaning are created: on one
level, we have a true-life story of adventure; on another, a purely fictional
fairy tale; and on a third level, transcending the first two and closest to
Swift’s original intention, a satirical critique of European pretensions to
rationality and goodwill.
In the first voyage of Lilliput, he comes across tiny human beings, who
are six inches high yet, so threatening and deceptive that Gulliver
contemplates over their evil nature. The word 'Lilliput', when etymologically
studied gives us the combined meaning of ‘little rustic’ or ‘little rascals’.
Although big and mighty, Gulliver does services to the ungrateful king, much to
the discomfort of Filmnap, the treasurer of the island. With his physical
strength, Gulliver has the ability to crush and subdue the whole kingdom but he
somehow controls his physical self since he suffers from mental torment for he
is not able to understand the mentality of the Lilliputians, who, besides being
manipulative and malignant in nature, condemn him even after he has been main
instrument behind their victory in the battle against Blefescu, a neighboring
island. Hence in the first part, Gulliver suffers from mental torment though he
is physically powerful.
However, in the second voyage, that is, the voyage to Brobdingnag,
Gulliver finds that he himself is a Lilliputian in the land of the giants.
Here, he encounters all kinds of physical torment: A pumpkin, which is the size
of a rock, is thrown at him; people use him as a toy. Finally, he finds himself
at the king's court where, he innocently narrates the pathetic conditions of
his country (political, religious, and social conditions of England.) On
hearing this, the king scorns the socio-political proceedings in England. We
must make a note that the word ‘Brobdingnag’ is a big word and so it signifies
something large—implicating the generosity and the magnanimity of the
Brobdingnagians. Gulliver himself is a Lilliputian since the king is cynical
about his views on Gulliver’s hometown, just like the way Gulliver felt for the
Lilliputians. Therefore, Brobdingnag becomes a land of physical torment for
Gulliver. Mental torment, however, takes the back seat as Gulliver fails to get
the insulting message from the king who has a scornful attitude towards
Gulliver's homeland. At this point, it is better to make a note of the
contrasts in the first two voyages.
In the third voyage, Gulliver comes across Laputa, the floating island,
which is ruled by intellectuals such as scientists, mathematicians, political
advisors and musicians—all geniuses who lack the sense of spirituality and
morality. Idealistic in nature, the people of Laputa refuse to be practical for
we find scientists trying to recycle human excretion back into food,
politicians trying to solve problems by improbable ways. The most singular
experience is the encounter with the immortals who lose physical strength as
age progresses (death itself is much better, Gulliver feels.)The inhabitants of
Laputa, who live in a world of illusion, indulge in the futility of speculation
and of books. What really turns out to be their moment of glory—as they spend
most of their time beating their brains about the improbable inventions—turns
out to be their folly as they ignore the fact that their spouses are having an
extra-marital affair. Therefore, they are indifferent to normal human
relationships, and turn their heads towards science and politics. The Gulliver,
who we see here, is just a silent spectator of the unusual happenings in
Laputa. What Swift is trying to convey here is that ‘intellectuality’ is an
obstacle to morality.
In the fourth voyage, we see a reversal of fortune, as the horses rule
the land of Houyhnhnms, not the Yahoos—bestial creatures resembling man.
Gulliver is surprised, and so are the horses when they come to know that they
hail from contrasting backgrounds. The horses are so naïve that they ask
him what is the meaning for ‘falsehood’. The horses lead a life of innocence,
and they are synonymous with morality: Adultery, murder, and falsehood fail to
exist in the land of the horses. Strongly moved by the good life of the
Houyhnhnms, Gulliver scorns humanity and finally becomes an admiring friend of
the horses. Even after having reluctantly returned to his hometown, in the end
of the story, he buys two horses and is seen interacting with the horses,
totally disregarding his family, social status and the society around him.
At the beginning of the novel, Gulliver is an everyman through whose eyes
the reader sees the inhabitants of the places he visits. For most of the book,
merely recounts his observations in deadpan mode. He appears to have no will or
desires, but is led from land to land by fate. He gives his detailed
descriptions without judgment, and without the capacity for reflection and
distance that the reader possesses. He often fails to see the ludicrous, greedy,
and morally depraved nature of the people around him, whereas this is all too
clear to the reader. This gap between Gulliver's and the reader's perception of
events leads to dramatic irony (a literary device in which the reader or
audience of a work knows more than the character).
As a middle-of-the-road human being, Gulliver finds himself to be morally
superior to the Lilliputians but morally inferior to the Brobdingnagians. In
Brobdingnag, his weakness becomes clear. It is his pride in, and loyalty to,
England, which leads him to lie to the Brobdingnagian king in order to paint
his country in a favorable light.
Gulliver is somewhat more
tranquil and less restless at the end of the story than he is at the beginning.
In desiring first to stay with the Houyhnhnms, then to find an
island on which he can live in exile, Gulliver shows that his adventures have
taught him that a simple life, one without the complexities and weaknesses of
human society, may be best. At the same time, his tranquility is
superficial—lying not far below the surface is a deep distaste for humanity
that is aroused as soon as the crew of Don Pedro de Mendez
captures him. “From our point of view, after we have looked at the world
through Gulliver’s eyes for much of the novel, Gulliver undergoes several
interesting transformations: from the naive Englishman to the experienced but
still open-minded world traveler of the first two voyages; then to the jaded
island-hopper of the third voyage; and finally to the cynical, disillusioned,
and somewhat insane misanthrope of the fourth voyage”.
Gulliver's stay in the land of the Houyhnhnms marks the complete loss of
his objectivity and innocence. He finds himself midway between the rationality
of the Houyhnhnms and the bestiality of the Yahoos. So impressed is he by the
Houyhnhnms and so disgusted is he by the Yahoos that he becomes obsessed with
trying to be like the Houyhnhnms, when he physically resembles the Yahoos far
more. Finally, he gives way to an insanity in which he seems to believe himself
to be a Houyhnhnm and rejects even the best of humankind because he believes
them to be Yahoos. At the end of the book, Gulliver is still trying to
re-acclimatize to life among humans. While condemning his fellow men for their
pride, he fails to see that he himself has fallen victim to pride in his
disgust at humanity. As a result, the reader ceases to look through his eyes to
judge others and begins to look at him and judge him. He, too, becomes an
object of satire.
Most of the time during his travels, Gulliver feels isolated from the
societies he visits. He does not fit in anywhere, and even during his brief
returns to England, he expresses no wish to stay and leaves as quickly as he
can. This has led to some critics calling Gulliver's Travels the first novel of
The country of the Houyhnhnms is unique among the nations Gullliver
visits because of its subjugation of the individual to the good of society as a
whole, which leads to an orderly and well-run nation. The price is that there
is little room for human-style individuality. Nobody can become attached to
their children because they may be assigned to another family that has a
shortage of children; mates are chosen not by individual preference, but for
the good of the race; servanthood is genetically mandated. Only during his stay
with the Houyhnhnms does Gulliver wish to assimilate into society. His attempts
are ridiculous, leading to his taking on the gait and speech patterns of his
horse hosts. More seriously, they are doomed to fail: the Houyhnhnms decide
that he is not one of them and expel him. The only society to which Gulliver
wishes to belong will not have him. Swift raises questions about the conflict
between the individual and society, but does not resolve them.
In many ways,
Gulliver’s role as a
generic human is more important than any personal opinions or abilities he may
have. Fate and circumstance conspire to lead him from place to place, while he
never really asserts his own desires. By minimizing the importance of Gulliver
as a specific person, Swift puts the focus on the social satire itself. At the
same time, Gulliver himself becomes more and more a subject of satire as the
story progresses. At the beginning, he is a standard issue European adventurer;
by the end, he has become a misanthrope who totally rejects human society. It
is in the fourth voyage that Gulliver becomes more than simply a pair of eyes
through which we see a series of unusual societies. He is, instead, a jaded
adventurer who has seen human follies—particularly that of pride—at their most
extreme, and as a result has descended into what looks like, and probably is, a
kind of madness.
After the researching of the novel “Gulliver’s Travels” by Johnatan Swift
we can assert that the changing hypostases really took place in the behavior
and morality of the protagonist. We were interested to see how the protagonist
has changed both spiritually and physically. The physical changes lie on
surface, we know that the main character changed his size, but to track the
spiritual changes was more difficult. We can draw a conclusion that the travels
of the main character have changed his inner world completely.
While some enjoy Gulliver's Travels as a diversionary story, it is
clear that it was not written primarily for this purpose. There are many
concepts and ideas within the novel that were clearly written to challenge and
trouble. Swift accomplishes his aim very well through his use of humor and
comments on society.
Swift vexed people with Gulliver's Travels by designing his imaginary societies to parallel his own. He thus created conflict between those with more power and those with less, the latter wanting change and the former wanting to prevent change. This may have troubled those who did not question the status quo, who may agree with the powerful people because they are happy with their life. However, Gulliver's Travels is a sincere comment on Swift's society that would garner both respect and ridicule. This novel is a very interesting political analysis and satire of various governments and societies. The author compares each land to the government and society of his native England.
We could notice that the author, through his descriptions, contemplates different types of governments. Many of the governments he describes are depictions of governments in existence at the time in which the author lived. The author's own discontent with the English government and European society is the focus of this novel. Through fanciful imaginings, the author depicts chaotic and ridiculous lands that closely resemble the European countries of his time. Many of the conflicts in the novel correspond to actual events. Numerous characters actually represent members of European society.
So it’s a well-known fact that the author uses this novel as a satire and criticism of English and European governments and societies. It is through this novel that the Author expresses his own political beliefs by favorable or disparaging descriptions of the different lands. Towards the conclusion of the novel, the Author describes his total rejection of European Government and society. He longs for an ideal country to exist like the one he had seen in the land of the Houyhnhnms. Swift was just one of the many Europeans who was unhappy with the political and social environment in Europe. This discontent was what caused many Europeans to leave and come to the New World, to America. This dissatisfaction is what founded our country today. The Land of the Houyhnhnms is what many of the unhappy Europeans hoped the New World to be.
The novel “Gulliver’s Travels” has made a profound impression on readers as well as on whole cultures. From its earliest days till nowadays, “Gulliver’s Travels” has received universal acclaim as a masterpiece of satirical prose.
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