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Gulliver’s Travels, English Society And Utopia

1079 words - 5 pages

The idea of a perfect society, or Utopia as it was called by Sir Thomas More, fascinated the world during the 18th century. By definition, utopia actually means “no place,” so it is easy to believe that a utopia is a fantasy. However, people have been drawn to the idea of a utopia throughout history. In fact much or More’s Utopia can be, at least in part, traced to Plato’s ideas written in Republic.” The contrast bewteen uptopia and the everyday life of most residents of England was, however, very stark. It was the real disappointments in life that motivated a different use of the utopian ideal by Jonathan Swift. Swift borrows the perfect society as social satire of the England, in ...view middle of the document...

They also practice strict family planning, dictating that the parents of two females should exchange a child with a family of two males, so that the male-to-female ratio is perfectly maintained. Also, the Houyhnhnms are incredibly interesting because they do not have words to describe any of the bad aspects of human nature, including lying, greed, and jealousy. For Gulliver, it was hard to explain that many people in England ruin themselves by drinking, gambling and debauchery and many are guilty of murder, theft, robbery, forgery and rape.
The Houyhnhnms have an ideal way of life. Knowing that Swift writes of them as non-human creatures is important because it suggests that only non-human creatures are capable of living in a utopia. “Gulliver's Travels' utopianism can ultimately be identified in its denial of the possibility of an ideal state on earth; with this denial, it reaches the same conclusion as Utopia.”
While Gulliver is on Houyhnhnm Land, Swift shows the fault of humankind through Gulliver’s contact with a Yahoo. "My horror and astonishment are not to be described, when I observed in this abdominal animal a perfect human figure" Gulliver finds that the only difference between himself and the Yahoo is that of the Yahoo's lack of cleanliness and clothes, otherwise, a Yahoo could be confused and viewed as a human. With this line, Swift's satire achieves its goal, and shows that the flaws of humanity are overwhelming and Swift degrades humanity. Humans are no greater than unclean beings that have no knowledge or reason. Swift’s strike against humankind is when he gives the origin of the Yahoos. The human like Yahoo are explained as the descendants of a shipwrecked couple who arrived on the shores of Houyhnhnm Land many years ago. By the time the reader reaches the time of Gulliver's Travels, the Yahoo had completely lost all language and technology, which further shows Swift's Satire and the degeneration of man.
The most realistic version of 18th century society, presented in Gulliver’s Travels, is that of the Lilliputians. The Lilliputians have quite a similar way of governing to England’s, but in some ways they...

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