OBJECTS OF SWIFT’S SATIRE IN “GULLIVER’S TRAVELS”:
Political Satire in Part I of the Book:
In part I we find Swift satirizing the manner in which political offices were distributedamong the candidates by the English King in Swift’s time. Flimnap, the treasurer, representsSir Robert Walpole who was the prime minister of England from 1715 to 1716 and then againfrom 1721 to 1742. Dancing on a tight rope symbolizes Walpole’s skill in parliamentary tacticsand political intrigues. Similarly, Reldresal represents Lord Carteret who was appointed byWalpole to the office of the Lieutenant of Ireland.The ancient temple in which Gulliver is housed In Lilliput probably refers to Westminster Hallin which Charles I had been condemned to death. The three fine silk threads which wereawarded as prizes to the winners of various contests refer to the various distinctions whichwere conferred by the English King on his favourites.
Satirical References to Queen Anne:
Gulliver’s account of the anger of the Empress of Lilliput at his having extinguished afire in her apartment is Swift’s satirical way of describing Queen Anne’s annoyance with himfor having written “A Tale of a Tub” in which Swift had attacked religious abuses but whichhad been misinterpreted by the Queen as an attack on religion itself.
Satire on Religious Strife and on Political Factions:
Swift’s satire becomes more amusing when Gulliver speaks of the conflict between theBig-Endians and the Little-Endians in Lilliput. It is funny that while one party believes thatboiled eggs should be broken at the big end, the other party insists on breaking the eggs atthe smaller end. In this account Swift is ridiculing the conflicts between the Roman Catholicsand the Protestants. He is making fun of hair-splitting theological disputes. Swift also pokesfun at the political parties in England when he speaks of the two factions in Lilliput.
Satire on the Coarseness of the Human Body:
In part II, the satire becomes general. Here, Gulliver first gives us his reaction to thecoarseness and ugliness of the human body. We meet the people of Brobdingnag who aregiants in stature and who thus present a glaring contrast to the pigmies of Lilliput. If, in thedescription of the Lilliputians, Swift was looking at mankind through the wrong end of atelescope, in his account of the Brobdingnagians he is looking at mankind through themagnifying glass. We are particularly repelled by the description of the huge, monstrousbreasts of a woman which are revealed when she begins to suckle her child.
Satire on Human Pride and Pretension:
When Gulliver has given to the King an account of the life in his own country, of thetrade, the wars, the conflicts in religion, the political parties, the King has a hearty laugh andasks Gulliver whether the latter is a Whig or Tory. When the King passed a remark howcontemptible a thing is human grandeur which could be mimicked by such small insects asGulliver. In other words, the King mocks at the human race of which Gulliver is arepresentative. Swift is here ridiculing human pride and pretensions.