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The Truth Is Hard To Swallow

1012 words - 4 pages

The Truth is Hard to Swallow One can safely assume that an immense amount of controversy resulted with the publication of Jonathan Swift?s Gulliver?s Travels in 1726. A seemingly innocent tale of a traveler?s adventures, it is apparent that the true meaning underlying the text is a bold attack on the political and sociological aspects of eighteenth century England. This is clearly apparent throughout Gulliver?s voyages to Lilliput, Brobdingnag and Laputa as all three stories satirically depict different aspects of English society. The final voyage to Country of the Houyhnhnms is simply a harsh satire of the human condition. At a time when political England would have a person killed for any public criticism of government, Swift was being rather risqué with this satirical work, knowing that at times, the truth is hard the swallow.The first adventure leads Gulliver to the island of Lilliput. The inhabitants of this strange land are all one-twelfth of Gulliver?s size and consider him to be a giant. Even though Gulliver?s size makes him a threat to the tiny Lilliputians, they clearly have much power over him and his freedom. Gulliver gradually learns more about the political state of Lilliput and remarks that: Mistakes committed by Ignorance in a virtuous Disposition, would never be of such fatal consequence to the Publick Weal, as the Practices of a Man whose Inclinations led him to be corrupt, and had great Abilities to manage, and multiply, and defend his Corruptions. (pg. 49, Rivero) This observation is rather significant. In this first adventure, Swift is satirizing the English government. The way in which the tiny inhabitants of Lilliput control Gulliver represents the way in which the English government controls the entire country. More specifically, Gulliver?s statement expresses that one can free himself by simply manipulating the laws of the Lilliputians, which is precisely what Gulliver does to gain freedom from Lilliput.Gulliver returns home only to embark on his second voyage to Brobdingnag. Here, the roles are reversed and Gulliver is but a twelfth the size of the inhabitants. There are two aspects to consider about this second voyage. The first is the way in which Gulliver is used for exhibition; he is on display just as dwarfs and giants are on display at exhibitions in England.Perhaps even more significant is the second aspect of Gulliver?s adventure in Brobdingnag. Gulliver and the king spend quite some time discussing the political state of England. Gulliver is very proud of his country and is appalled when the king states: ?I cannot but conclude the bulk of your Natives to be the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the Surface of the Earth? (pg. 111, Rivero). As a Brobdingnagian, the King cannot comprehend the political state of England, as the laws are contradictions of each other and the policy of war is but ignorance. In this second adventure, Swift focuses more on...

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