English Satire In Gulliver’s Travels Essay

1012 words - 4 pages

Gulliver’s Travels is a satirical novel about a sailor’s adventures through strange lands; the author of Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift, uses these adventures to satirize the English society. The most prevalent satire is used as Gulliver travels through the lands of Lilliput, Brombdinag, and the Houyhnhnms.

One example of satire against the English society in Gulliver’s Travels is the political affairs of the Lilliputians. The Lilliputians to gain a high ranking office “competed for them by dancing on a rope for the entertainment of the emperor” (Orwell). The rope dancing is a direct shot at England’s election system, comparing it to doing ridiculous activities that have nothing to do with politics. Also, Jonathan Swift satirized the English Parliament directly by modeling Flimnap, a Lilliputian politician, after England’s first Prime Minister, Robert Warpole.
“… Swift’s model for Flimnap was Robert Warpole, the leader of the Whig’s and England’s first Prime Minister in the modern sense. Warpole was an extremely wily politician, as Swift shows, by making Flimnap the most dexterous of the rope dancers” (Cliffnotes).
Jonathan Swift cleverly roasts English politics with a simple rope dancing competition and politician, Warpole, who is extremely talented at “dancing on rope”.

Another example of satire against England, in Gulliver’s Travels, in Lilliput is Gulliver compared to the Lilliputians. In the novel, Gulliver is shown to be “… Greeted by great acclaim and be made a nobleman” (Dawson), for “offering his services to the emperor… and [bringing] back [Blefuscu’s] entire fleet” (Dawson). However, the emperor of Lilliput wanted them to be made slaves, while Gulliver wanted a peace agreement: “The pro-Gulliver forces prevailed… Gulliver however was now in disfavor in court” (Dawson).. This shows a “… detailed contrast between the normal, if gullible, man (Gulliver) and the diminutive but vicious politician (the Lilliputian)” (Cliffnotes). This quote shows how Gulliver, who represents the people, is going have friction with an aggressive court, mimicking England’s Parliament.

Size difference is also an extraordinary measure used to justify the satire against English society in Gulliver’s Travels. The Lilliputians are “men six inches in height” (Cliffnotes) and the Brombdinagians are “… physically huge -60 foot tall-“(Cliffnotes). The size difference is used to not only show Gulliver’s evolving personality but is used to show how Jonathan Swift views the English society’s needs of growth. Brombdinagians are large and the “epitome of moral giants” (Cliffnotes). The Lilliputians are representative of vicious politicians, as shown earlier in the essay, in Gulliver’s Travels. Swift shows how morals are “larger” and more needed than politics in society; he places morals on a scale of great importance. Morals help people make good decisions and make politics redundant; Swift is trying to show the benefit of morals.

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