‘Gulliver’s Travels’ by Jonathan Swift

Introduction

‘Gulliver travel’ written by Jonathan Swift has got an important place among the classic of English literature. It deals with the voyage of Gulliver through different countries like Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa, and Houyhnhnms and he met several people with different cultures. Each of his journeys starts with a storm and all these voyages give him a lot of benefits to achieve several chances for analyzing the ridicule the way of England. The readers get the idea about the places only through the viewpoint of Gulliver, a Typical English man in the colonization era. So the novel is just not the description of an adventures journey of Gulliver. But it also gives an opportunity to readers to analyze the attitude of British society towards other cultures.

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Gulliver’s Travel

Voyage to Lilliput

“Gulliver’s voyage to Lilliput, in the first part of the book, takes us to the land of pygmies, a land that bears a striking resemblance to England. Lilliput is a miniature empire with a little monarch who entitled himself as “delight and terror of the universe”.” (Elena Taralunga Tamura, 4).

At first, Gulliver became the captive of the Lilliputians because the huge and tall body of Gulliver misled them that he was cruel and might cause harm to them. They considered him as a special creature and they walked on his huge body and he wondered when he analyzed the behavior of those creatures. But later Lilliputians realized that he never causes any harm to them and they became good friends.

The emperor of Lilliput ordered him to give protection to him against those people who always made harm to Gulliver. And also people in Lilliput are happy with the presence of Gulliver in their country. “Besides, I now considered myself as bound by the law of hospitality to a people who had treated me with so much expense and magnificence. However, 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 creatures as I must appear to them.” (Han, 23).

The reader can understand the hospitality of Lilliputians through the way of treatment of Gulliver. In the first part of this novel, Swift tried to reflect the characterization of people in several parts of England mainly the people in Lilliput. Also, he tried to expose the public and political situations in England during that time. The author picturizes the exact presentation of politicians of England during that period, through the emperor of Lilliput.

Gulliver in Brobdingnag

“Imagine with thyself, courteous reader, how often I then wished for the tongue of Demosthenes or Cicero, that might have enabled me to celebrate the praises of my own dear native country in a style equal to its merits and felicity.” (Han, 131).

The second part of the classic deals with Gulliver’s travel towards Brobdingnag. Here, he met the people who were entirely different from the people in Lilliput. Here Gulliver looked smaller than Brobdingnagians and through this author tries to put another satiric approach in his classic by describing the political situations in Europe at that time. In this, Swift tries to expose European civilization as a major theme. “Brobdingnagian society has many things to recommend it such as excellence “in morality, history, poetry, and mathematics,” although Gulliver ironically laments that these are only applied to the practical aspects of life and not used for abstractions.

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However, much of Swift’s political writings indicate that he, like the Brobdingnagians, favored a conception of government and society based on common-sense, (Lock, 132-134).” (Swift’s Moral Satire in Gulliver’s Travels).

When he met the people in Brobdingnag he understood that nothing is great in the world and nobody is better than anybody. Each one has his own power and quality. The atmosphere of the Brobdingnag is completely different from that of Lilliput because the people in Brobdingnag are hard working. Most of them are farmers and artists. Even though the people in Brobdingnag are giants, it doesn’t mean that it is the perfect country. Here also, some people live in bad circumstances. In this voyage, the author describes very little satirical suggestion to the British culture than that of Lilliput.

Gulliver in Laputa

“They made signs for me to come down from the rock, and go towards the shore, which I accordingly did; and the flying island being raised to a convenient height, the verge directly over me, a chain was let down from the lowest gallery, with a seat fastened to the bottom, to which I fixed myself, and was drawn up by pulleys.” (Han, 164). After the journey of Gulliver to Lilliput and Brobdingnag, his next journey was to an island called Laputa. “The Voyage to Laputa is for many the least satisfying and least understood. The conventional critical take on Part Three is that the entire series of episodes is fundamentally pointless and artless in comparison.” (McNeil).

Laputa Island is a rock which is very big in size and in the middle of this island there is a big gap. Not only is this rock big in size, but it is very thick also. One of the specialties of this island is that as it is a loadstone, it will move from one position toward the other position. Moreover, it will go up and down. There is a striking power at one part of the stone and the other part of the stone is hideous. So, through magnetic needle movement, it can identify the position of the island. “Upon placing the Magnet erect with its attracting end toward the Earth, the island descends; but when the repelling Extremity points downwards, the Island mounts directly upwards.

When the Position of the Stone is oblique, the Motion of the Island is too.” (Laputa: A Floating Island or Rock in the Air). When the rock is in a sloping position, the movement of the rock will increase. This island looks like an imaginary place that is very different from other islands with a lot of specialties. This Island was dedicated to art, music, arithmetic, astronomy, and so on. Most of the people of Laputa are well-educated and intelligent who loved arts, astronomy, music, etc. Even though they are interested in all these topics, they botched to put their knowledge into practice. As people are interested in astronomy they discovered many things on other planets.

They also invented new ideas and methods in art and music. The people on this island are only interested in such matters and they are lazy to work, mainly the male dominants. The wives of these men do not like to live on this island and they compel their husbands to leave this place and go to other regions which place below Laputa Island. The women of this place are very powerful and they did not like to live in the control of their husbands. So, after analyzing the people of Laputa, Gulliver states that all the women in every nation are alike and the nature of women cannot change by any weather or land. After the visit to Laputa, his next journey was to Houyhnhnms.

Gulliver in Houyhnhnms

“But the Houyhnhnms, who live under the government of Reason, are no more proud of the good qualities they possess than I should be for not wanting a leg or an arm, which no man in this wits would boast of, although he must be miserable without them. I dwell the longer upon this subject from the desire I have to make the society of an English Yahoo by any means not insupportable, and therefore I here entreat those who have any tincture of this absurd vice, that they will not presume to appear in my sight.” (Han, 310).

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Jonathan Swift explains well about the country Houyhnhnms well in his unique style. The important content in his description of this country is his narration about yahoos, the domestic animals used in the society of Houyhnhnms. These creatures physically resemble humans and represent the worst things inside all human beings. Presentation of these creatures can be interpreted in many other different ways too.

By presenting these strange creatures, the author also tries to criticize the attitude of ancient British rulers towards black people. In those times, Black people were not even considered human beings. But, the society of Houyhnhnms is not like animals. There are many features in the society of Houyhnhnms that resemble normal human beings society, like social interaction, annual meetings, etc. Indeed, they used racehorses which show the civilization like normal human beings. But, the thing which is more interesting in the description about the country and creatures over there is the attitude of Gulliver towards them.

At first, Gulliver was surprised by seeing such strange creatures in the country. But, gradually he began to think about the absence of thoughts about the war in the society of Houyhnhnms. Even though they were interested in using racehorses, the ideas about the war hadn’t reached among them. Gulliver tried to make them aware of civilization in Europe. His main intention was to create awareness about the scope of war in society.

Gulliver thought that interest in the war was the main thing that should be with a civilized society. It was just not the personal opinion of a character. But it indicates the approach of British society towards war and colonization. They were not ready to recognize a society without an interest in war. “Moreover, Gulliver as an Englishman feels that it is his duty to colonize the lands he visited.” (Elena Taralunga Tamura, 6). By presenting the description of such a strange land and the character of creatures over there the author shows the strength of his creativity. At the same time, through the character of Gulliver, the author criticizes the addiction of war in Europeans.

Gulliver most often refers to yahoos are animals, but at the same time, he says these creatures are similar to human beings in many aspects. The readers get an idea about the creatures through the description of Gulliver who represents a typical British man who is highly influenced by ideas of war, colonization, etc. “His trustworthiness as a narrator is undermined and his representations become opaque or fall under suspicion.” (Measurement, Irony and the Grotesque in Gulliver’s Travel). During the time when colonization reached its extreme, British people were not ready to recognize people of other colors as human beings. “One of the most controversial points about Gulliver’s last voyage is whether the yahoos are human beings.” (Sackett, 212).

Conclusion

The intact of ‘Gulliver travel’ describes the voyage of Gulliver in different nations. By going through different parts of the book, the reader can analyze the character of Gulliver. Also, it fully describes the adventures of Gulliver during his voyage. In his first two books, swift try criticizes the various things that are happening in English society, and in the last two books he exposes the nature of humans and their abilities.

Works Cited

Elena Taralunga Tamura. The Economic Journal of Takasaki City University Economics 46(3), pp. 129-135. 2003. Web.

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Han, Joe. World Literature. 2009. Print.

Laputa: A Floating Island or Rock in the Air. Technovelgycom. Web.

McNeil, Russell. Jonathan Swift’s Voyage to Laputa. 1998. Web.

Measurement, Irony and the Grotesque in Gulliver’s Travel. 123Helpme. 2010. Web.

Sackett, S.J. Gulliver Four: Here We Go Again. Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association. 1973. Web.

Swift’s Moral Satire in Gulliver’s Travels. Shirley Galloway. 1994. Web.

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