Although Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift has

This essay has a total of 1671 words and 7 pages.


Although Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift has long been thought of as a children's
story, it is actually a dark satire on the fallacies of human nature. The four parts of
the book are arranged in a planned sequence, to show Gulliver's optimism and lack of shame
with the Lilliputians, decaying into his shame and disgust with humans when he is in the
land of the Houyhnhmns. The Brobdingnagians are more hospitable than the Lilliputians, but
Gulliver's attitude towards them is more disgusted and bitter. Gulliver's tone becomes
even more critical of the introspective people of Laputa and Lagado, and in Glubbdubdrib
he learns the truth about modern man. Gulliver finds the Luggnuggians to be a "polite and
generous people" (III, 177), until he learns that the Struldbruggs' immortality is a curse
rather than a blessing. Throughout the course of Gulliver's Travels, Gulliver's encounters
with each culture signify a progression from benevolence towards man to misanthropy,
resulting in Gulliver's final insanity.

In the first part of the book, Gulliver arrives on a strange island and wakes up tied to
the ground by a culture of six-inch tall Lilliputians. Gulliver is amazed by the skill of
the Lilliputians in handling him, but he is offended by their disrespect: "…in my
Thoughts I could not sufficiently wonder at the Intrepidity of these diminutive Mortals,
who durst venture to mount and walk on my Body, while one of my Hands was at Liberty,
without trembling at the very Sight of so prodigious a Creature as I must appear to them"
(I, 8). However, Gulliver complies with every inconvenience that the Lilliputians bestow
on him, because he allows them to take him prisoner even though he could destroy them with
one stomp. It is rather amusing that Gulliver surrenders to these tiny

people so quickly: "…when I felt the Smart of their Arrows upon my Face and Hands…I
gave Tokens to let them know that they might do with me what they pleased" (I, 9). They
also tie Gulliver up as if he were a dog, and search his pockets in order to confiscate
any weapons, among numerous other actions in which Gulliver placidly succumbs. No matter
how respectful Gulliver is, however, it is negated by his lack of shame. By urinating on
the queen's palace to put out a fire, he does not realize that he offended the queen
immensely, and this is the cause for his impeachment. By making these people small, Swift
seems to be criticizing man's petty nature, but Gulliver is oblivious and gullible,
treating them as if they are bigger than they actually are. Gulliver's attitude towards
the Lilliputians shows that he has respect for humanity, no matter how small, even though
the respect is not returned.

In contrast to the tiny, petty Lilliputians, the Brobdingnagians are huge and unexpectedly
docile. Gulliver's expectation when he sees the first Brobdingnagian is rather
pessimistic: " For, as human Creatures are observed to be more Savage and cruel in
Proportion to their Bulk; what could I expect but to be a Morsel in the Mouth of the first
among these enormous Barbarians who should happen to seize me?" (II, 66). Gulliver's
expectations turn out to be the opposite, for he is treated as an object of wonder,
instead of food. Even though they are more cordial than the trivial Lilliputians, Gulliver
notices more flaws in the Brobdingnagians, namely in the defects of their skin. By
noticing this, Gulliver has in effect become as petty as the Lilliputians, because the
outside of a person is the most trivial aspect to their much larger nature. Gulliver also
behaves in a more shameful way about his bodily functions around the Brobdingnagians, for
while he shamelessly urinates on the palace in Lilliput, in Brobdingnag he hides in a
sorrel leaf. Perhaps

Gulliver's attitude is a result of the dehumanizing way in which he feels small and
insignificant in an otherwise huge world. His feeling of insignificance is magnified by
the manner in which he is handled: as a toy, a thing, an animal, an alien, a freak, and a
machine. Gulliver is startled when he sees himself and the queen next to each other in a
mirror: "…there could nothing be more ridiculous than the Comparison: So that I really
began to imagine my self dwindled many Degrees below my usual Size" (II, 85). From this
statement it is apparent that the Brobdingnagians are as symbolically huge as the
Lilliputians are small: they represent true moral human nature, but Gulliver is too small
to see it.

Where the first two parts of the book concern the physical size of people, the third
voyage concerns the scientific, mental side, as demonstrated by the Laputians who inhabit
a floating island. Gulliver finds them both impractical and difficult to communicate with:
"I have not seen a more clumsy, awkward, and unhandy People, nor so slow and perplexed in
their Conceptions upon all other Subjects, except those of Mathematicks and Musick" (III,
136). In this book, Gulliver criticizes the culture more openly than he does in the
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