Essay: Gulliver’s Travels

Gulliver’s Travels was written during a period in literary history call the Reformation. Almost all of the different satirical devices can be observed quite frequently and easily through Swift’s hilarious exaggerations and thinly-veiled sarcasm. In every account mentioned in the book, every island, and every new civilization, Swift promotes his views of current political representatives and their policies during his lifetime.
In part one when Gulliver is on the island of Lilliput, the Lilliputians in Swift’s mind represents the Monarchy in England at the time. In the story, the king of Lilliput is in his late twenties and is a man who has not true knowledge of politics, who represents a figurehead for his generals and nobles who really run the kingdom. They exploit the king’s absent mindedness for their own advantages to do their bidding with not second thought given by the people of the kingdom. The satirical meaning of this chapter is poking fun at the Tories and the Whigs who were the two political parties in the beginning of eighteenth century England. The Tories were in support of strengthening the royal authority and restricting the power of Parliament.
Part two begins when Gulliver is left behind by his crew on the island of Brobdingnag. The people of this strange place were the Brobdingnagians. The Brobdingnagian’s massive size compared to Gulliver represents how the English society even when the people are treated kindly when you are different in some shape, form, or fashion, you are treated like an exhibit. Swift’s representation of Gulliver explains how under the Monarch, at this point in history, demonstrates how each individual is controlled by the king.
Gulliver is on the flying island of Laputa in part three and he soon realizes that the inhabitants are quite brilliant. They are always caught up in problem solving and are in such deep thought that the people are mostly mad with finding solutions. Their preoccupation keeps them from their true reality so much so that their servants must tap them with a flapper to keep them from falling off the island. Swift uses his creativity in this chapter to show his feelings toward the oppression of Ireland. The Academy of Lagado is Swift’s personal twist on the royalty in Dublin, but it applies to all countries blinded by science. Scientific learning was greatly extended in the eighteenth century, but Swift felt nothing but disgust for the host of quacks and mad scientists.
Part four takes place on the island of the Houynhnms where Swift uses the wide differences in the creatures of this environment to show how the different ethnic groups who were not white were looked upon in Europe. The Yahoos, who were almost human-like but thought of as the most hideous creatures ever to foul the Earth, were used as farm animals for the Houyhnhnms who were considered the masters. This was created by Swift to show how he viewed the practice of slavery and segregation of different ethnic groups.
Swift’s command of satire in the story of Gulliver’s Travels allows him to make a mockery of the political powers and the Monarchy without the worry of repercussions due to his feelings and beliefs.

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