An Author’s Hidden Attack On Humanity: Structalist Criticism Of Gulliver’s Travels

877 words - 4 pages

According to Allen Brizee and J. Case Tompkins, structalist criticism is connecting underlying elements in culture and literature so that critics can develop general conclusions about the individual works and the systems from which they emerge. Structural criticism’s frame work was formed by the theorist Peirce and Saussure. Conrad Richter elaborates on Peirce’s three important ideals for analyzing structuralism: "iconic signs, in which the signifier resembles the thing signified (such as the stick figures on washroom doors that signify 'Men' or 'Women'; indexes, in which the signifier is a reliable indicator of the presence of the signified (like fire and smoke); true symbols, in which the ...view middle of the document...

Swift is a disillusioned idealist whose misanthropy arises out of the disappointment he has for human nature. Swift is constantly frustrated by what men do as opposed to what they ought to do and Gulliver’s Travels is arguably his greatest satiric attempt to humiliate or embarrass men for their vices by constantly distinguishing between how men behave in a variety of situations. Man’s pride is what convinces him to believe that he is virtuous when, actually he has not developed his reason, and his virtue is an illusion for himself. The way swift structures his novel and his choice in metaphors serve his purpose for a critique on human nature.
Swift uses exaggeration as a satirical weapon, it is important to let it be known that exageration is not his only satirical technique. By using sarcasm and understatement, Swift parodies and burlesques human virtues by presenting them as such and then turning it into a vice. The form and structure of the whole novel improves upon Swift’s purpose, as did specific metaphors in each of Gulliver’s four voyages. Swift satirizes the usual sentimental attitude surrounding children. For instance, at birth Liliputian’s children were taken to the state to be reared into the right direction. In an earlier work, A Modest Proposal, swift again satirizes about children, as he suggest they should be sold to the English as a new source of food which would fix their economic and hunger problems.
The four parts of the book, each consisting of their own voyage, also are presented in a parallel way. Whereas part one and two focus...

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