see their children only twice a year, with their visits lasting not more than an hour, wherethey are allowed to kiss the children only at meeting and parting.
The Second Pattern, Underlying the Sequence of the Four Voyages:
A second pattern is the one underlying the sequence of the four voyages. It seems tobe a weakness in the structure that Part III should intervene between Gulliver’s experiencesin Brobdingnag and his later experiences in the country of the Houyhnhnms. But whatappears to be a fault from the purely logical point of view seems to justify itself from theartistic point of view. In the first voyage, we are not sure for sometime, nor is Gulliver, aboutthe true nature of the Lilliputians and their civilization, and though, eventually, Gulliver hasgood cause to conclude that these small people are as contemptible morally as they are smallin stature, this discovery does not leave him inwardly moved. Part II is more rigorous thanthis. Not only are the experiences less ambiguous but they bite more deeply into Gulliver’ssensibilities. Part IV really begins psychologically where the second leaves off, for theintensity of Gulliver’s reactions produces in him a state of shock which causes him to lose hisself-esteem as one of the human race. The intervention of the third voyage scattered in itseffects and only once in the episode of Struldbrugs producing a marked psychic reaction onGulliver’s part, is almost a functional necessity. This is only one of the several details which iseasy enough to make out in this sequential pattern. Gulliver having seen himself in relation tolittle men in part I and then big men in part II, is finally and suddenly forced into comparisonnot with men at all but with animals in part IV. This last situation is further complicated in sofar as the comparison is not simple but complex, because there are two orders of animalsbetween which poor Gulliver stands dubiously.
The Third Pattern: The Ironic Mode.
The third pattern might be described as the ironic mode in which much of “Gulliver’sTravels” has been cast. By means of this pattern, control is exercised over the book as awhole and over many of the details. The irony here is of a kind that came naturally to morethan one 18
Century writer, Goldsmith, being another who understood its use. The narrativeand dramatic literature of the Enlightenment dealt freely with current ideas, but did so in itsown way. Theories about man and society appear constantly in the plays and narratives of the period, and frequently assume major importance as a thematic element. These conceptsand principles are often brought before us in a perfectly direct and straightforward manner,and are to be understood as generalizations to which everyone subscribes as a matter of course.
The comedy of Exploration and Exclusion:
Comedy, in Swift, is sometimes the comedy of discontinuity. We strip, we analyze, andwe are shocked by the discrepancy which we find between appearance and reality. Again, wehave what we come to recognize as comedy in terms of a special situation: a certain state of affairs begins to define itself, becomes increasingly and arrogantly certain of its own identity,and grows, expands, improvises, aggrandizes itself at the expense of everything within reach.When Gulliver, on hearing of the Struldbrugs, assumes that they are universally envied fortheir immortality he is permitted by his hosts to indulge in eloquent praise of the blessings of long life before being shown the repulsive truth. Ordinarily Gulliver is not deceived in this