This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Civil Laws And Religious Authority In Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels

1270 words - 5 pages

Civil Laws and Religious Authority in Gulliver's Travels     

In part one of Gulliver's Travels, Swift present readers with an inverted world, not only by transplanting Gulliver to a land that's only a twelfth the size (a literal microcosm), but also by placing him into a society with different ethical and civil laws.  Swift uses these inversions not only to entertain the readers imagination, but more importantly, to transform our perspectives to understand alien worldviews (e.g. in part four, there is great detail given to explain the Houyhnhnms' views on marriage, health, astronomy, poetry, language, death, and reproduction).  The Lilliputian conflict that erupts from the egg law (found in part one, chapter four) is an inversion, which (1) parallels the conflict of the Protestant reformation; and (2) argues that warring over religious viewpoints is futile and destructive to society, and (3) mandates lawmakers to be wary of creating laws that contradict religious teachings. 

The conflict between the Lilliputians and Blefuscudians resembles the Protestant and Papist struggle because it's a struggle about interpretation of scripture. The "great prophet Lustrog, in the fifty-fourth chapter of the Brundecral" decrees that "all true believers shall break their eggs at the convenient end" (2353). The Blefuscudians (like Roman Catholics) hold a traditional view of scripture, and in their case, " the primitive way of breaking eggs . . . was upon the larger end" (2353), and that was "ancient practice" (2353). The Lilliputians (like Protestants), broke from tradition and held a personal view of scripture, as the Emperor decreed, "to break the smaller end of their eggs" (2353). And for "six and thirty moons past" (2353), the Lilliputians and Blefuscudians have been warring over the proper interpretation. Many readers might mock this scenario, thinking it's too outlandish, after all, "Who would die for an egg?" But Swift uses a silly law to show how religion is a factor, in whether or not to obey this law, and thus elevates the problem to a transcendent level.  Gulliver writes that:

During the course of these troubles, the emperors of Blefuscu did frequently expostulate by their ambassadors, accusing us [the Lilliputians] of making a schism in religion, by offending against a fundamental doctrine of our great prophet Lustrog. (2353)

Both, the Lilliputians and Blefuscudians, wanted to obey Lustrog, but each interpreted his rule in different ways.  Similarly, accusations were made against Martin Luther for not heeding to Papal authority (the traditional view of scripture) and instead defining Scripture according to his own conscience (Bainton 140). Who can forget Luther's speech at the Diet of Worms: "my conscience is captive to the Word of God.  I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right or safe" (Bainton 144). The problem of personal interpretation has cursed Christian churches down through the...

Find Another Essay On Civil Laws and Religious Authority in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels

The Use of Satire in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels

797 words - 3 pages Jonathan Swift's story, Gulliver's Travels is very complex, with several layers of meaning. He is a master satirist, and Gulliver's Travels is both humorous and critical. He critiques almost every aspect of life, from the writings of his times to the politics. He also satirizes more encompassing topics that are still relevant today, such as the human condition, and the desire for overcoming inferior instincts.The first satire we see in the story

A Nontraditional Hero in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels

1004 words - 4 pages In Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, the narrator shows the reader meeting many different characters, from the tiny people to the talking horses. Gulliver reveals through his adventures what kind of a character he is. He is a likeable, amusing and interesting person, but he lacks what could be classified as a hero – in the traditional sense. Seeing him as a hero is difficult because he resembles an anti-hero more. In some ways, Gulliver is

Voltaire's "Candide" and Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels": vehicles for satire

781 words - 3 pages Throughout Voltaire's Candide and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, the main characters of the works (Candide and Gulliver respectively) serve as vehicles for satire through which the authors can convey their views. It is important to note that both Candide and Gulliver serve as irons throughout the book; that is to say, the reader is shown irony through the actions of these characters, while at the same time the characters are naïve and

Term "Paper on Gulliver's Travels" Jonathan Swift's

1343 words - 5 pages Many of the critics who have critiqued Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels have used the word extraneous more then once. Swift was viewed as an insane person who was a failure in life. But this is far from the truth. Swift wrote Gulliver's Travels, a book that has been assigned to students for years, and it is written from experience. Swift's experience with the Tories and their conflicts with the Whigs caused him to write books that mock

The Enduring Wisdom in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels and Alexander Pope's An Essay on Man

1742 words - 7 pages The Enduring Wisdom in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels and Alexander Pope's An Essay on Man If learned men of a past era came to this present age of technological advance, modern man might be surprised at the observations these humans of yesterday would make. Over three centuries ago, two such men -- Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope -- made observations concerning their own time which have interesting insights to today's world. One

Johnathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels

1930 words - 8 pages Literary Analysis Paper Essay on Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift Past the political satire and laughable motifs in the book Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, the purpose of this story is to show everything ignoble and tactless of the human species in general and that humans are truly disgusting. Also exploring the idea of a utopia. Swift uses the literary device of political satire to show how childish and ignorant human acts were

Jonathan Swift - Gulliver's Travels Too Good to be True: Interpretation of Swift's Idealism and the Houyhnhms

1381 words - 6 pages This paper deals with the depiction of my conception of Swift’s idealism in the 4th part of the Gulliver's Travels (A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms) concerning Gulliver’s confrontation with the social and political structure of the Houhnhnms and subsequently his expulsion. This portrayal is then dismantled, analyzed and a certain number of interpretations is achieved to show whether there is a concealed satire by chance due

Satire in Jonathan Swift´s Gulliver's Travels

2236 words - 9 pages journeyed to several islands encountering unfamiliar groups of people and cultures. Swift would connect the experiences Gulliver encountered to different aspects of the English society. The unfamiliar societies Gulliver became acquainted with represent the new countries and their communities that England colonized. The way the communities of Lilliput, Brobdingnag, and Laputia treated Gulliver imitates the way the English treated an unfamiliar face, and it was only through each island’s society and Gulliver’s experiences that Jonathan Swift could create a parallel to England constructing satire in his famous novel Gulliver’s Travels.

Use of Satirical Techniques in Swift's Gulliver's Travels

1231 words - 5 pages Use of Satirical Techniques in Swift's Gulliver's Travels Swift is a master of satirical writing, and his use of satirical technique in Gulliver's Travels is of a deep and intense nature. In each mysterious island he visits, there is a subtle attack on European nature, and the way the people of his time lived and acted. Gulliver's Travels was written to expose and open up the cracks in the society of his time. Each

Quest for Truth Depicted in Swift's Gulliver's Travels and Huxley's Brave New World

1211 words - 5 pages great power which houses both good and evil thoughts. If used for evil, it can imprison a person, while for good it can release a man from prison. In Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, both authors use their main characters, John and Gulliver, to find the hidden truth within each world. Although they tell different stories, they both intertwine a common theme: trying to find the truth that hides deep within

Gulliver's Travels: Swift's Opinions Of The English

958 words - 4 pages classic piece of literature Gulliver's Travels . The many humorous stories in Gulliver's Travels have appealed to audiences of all ages since the book was written in the early eighteenth century by Jonathan Swift, a political writer (xvii).      Gulliver's Travels is written as Lemuel Gulliver's account of his voyages to the strange lands of Lilliput, Brobdingnag, the kingdom of Laputa, and the land of the Houyhnhnms. Swift's opinions on the

Similar Essays

Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels Essay

1664 words - 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

English Society And Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels

1247 words - 5 pages into practice. So then, what might be the message of Gulliver's Travels, besides merely a cataloging through satire of the particulary wrongs of Swift's day? My readings show this to be a hotly debated question, but for my own answer to this question you will have to read my analysis of Gulliver's Travels.   Works Cited * Chalmers, Alan D. Jonathan Swift and the Burden of the Future. London: Associted University Presses, 1995

Satirical Patterns In Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels

948 words - 4 pages understand all of the little annoyances there were about the political scheme in society in those days and compare them to today’s world.  After those comparisons, the reader finds that the problems are the same as they were in Swift’s time. Works Cited Swift, Jonathan.  Gulliver’s Travels.  New York: The new American Library Inc., 1983.

Seminar Paper On Issues Mocked In Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels

1484 words - 6 pages Jonathan Swift's, Gulliver's Travels satirically relates bodily functions and physical attributes to social issues during England's powerful rule of Europe. Through out the story we find many relations between bodily features and British and European society. Swift uses this tone of mockery to explain to his reader the importance of many different topics during this time of European rule. Swift feels that the body and their functions relate to