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Fine And Flawed Eyes In Gulliver’s Travels And Pride Prejudice: An Argument Relating Eyesight And Judgment

3445 words - 14 pages

Throughout biblical scripture, an implicit correlation between eyesight and judgment exists – not God’s judgment, but a human’s ability to pass judgment in a certain situation. Matthew 6:22 states, “the eye is the lamp of the body. So, if [the] eye is healthy, [the] whole body will be full of light.” One of the miracles of Jesus provides another example pertaining to eyesight: “Then Jesus laid his hands on [the man’s] eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly” (Mark 8:25). Jonathan Swift and Jane Austen both had ties to the church, and their experiences influenced their texts. In Gulliver’s Travels, Gulliver notes the importance of his spectacles. Without them, he would not be able to see clearly, and he later mentions that his spectacles protect his eyes from the Lilliputians when they try to attack him. Throughout the text, however, Gulliver makes poor decisions concerning his family and his loyalty to England. He is blind to his own faults and blind to the corrupt nature of his homeland. I argue that these ideas are related. In a sense, Gulliver’s inability to see the flaws in his own life parallels his poor eyesight. Furthermore, Elizabeth Bennet demonstrates this idea through the description of her “fine eyes.” Though Elizabeth correctly judges each character in the novel, she fails in her attempts to read both Darcy and Wickham. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth is the sole character to discern the true natures of each of the other members of the novel correctly, thus a representation of her “fine eyes.” However, her ability to read the actions and motives of each character fails in reference to Wickham and Darcy. She falls prey to her first impressions of each of these men and stubbornly holds on to her first thoughts on Darcy and Wickham. As the novel progresses, her Elizabeth gains better judgment.
In this essay, I aim to reveal the various instances in which Gulliver’s imperfect eyes and Elizabeth’s fine eyes fail and succeed in passing judgment on certain characters or places. I will pull particular lines and passages in order to shed light on this argument. These tools, along with a portion of one of Aesop’s Fables, will further evidence the relationship the eyesight and ability to judge. First, I intend to describe the eyes of Gulliver and Elizabeth in more explicit detail. Second, I aim to focus on the instances in each text where Gulliver and Elizabeth misconstrue their perceptions of individuals or nations. Third, I plan to relate the failures and successes of eyesight to each character and their ability to judge within the texts. Gulliver and Elizabeth both fail in recognizing their own faults, but they quickly distinguish the flaws of those that they encounter. This also finds root in the Biblical scriptures. “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:5). Gulliver and Elizabeth incorrectly judge...

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