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if often masks the complexity of his irony, Swift is praised for his ability to craft his satires entirely through the eyes of a created persona. He is regarded as a complex, though not mysterious man, who created works of art which will permit no single interpretation. The massive amount of criticism devoted to Swift each year reflects his continued literary importance: his work is valuable not for any statement of ultimate meaning, but for its potential for raising questions in the mind of the reader. One of them is whether Gulliver is solely a character or a mouthpiece of Swift himself.
Content: Introduction View on war Decease and Disease Gulliver’s Travel Background Part I: A Voyage to Lilliput Part II: A Voyage to Brobdingnag Part III: A Voyage to Laputa etc Part IV: A Voyage to Houyhnhnms Critical Reception Conclusion
Jonathan Swift was a posthumous child, born in Dublin on November 30, 1667. He was an Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet and cleric. Swift is probably the foremost prose satirist in the English language, and is less well known for his poetry. He is remembered for works such as Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal, A
Journal to Stella, Drapier's Letters, The Battle of the Books, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, and A Tale of a Tub . Swift originally published all of his works under pseudonyms—such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, M.B. Drapier—or anonymously. He is also known for being a master of two styles of satire: the Horatian and Juvenalian styles.
View on war
It would be wrong to say that Swift was only being the mouthpiece of his political masters, the Tories, because the strain of pacifism is manifest in all swift’s writing, particularly the Gulliver ‘s travel where Gulliver tells the kind of Brobdingnag about European warfare. Gulliver’s analysis of flimsy or selfish causes of wars is superb. “Sometimes one prince quarreled with another for fear the other should quarrel with him. Sometimes a war is entered upon, because
the enemy is too strong, and sometimes because he is too weak. Sometimes our neighbors want the thing which we have or have the things which we want; and we both fight till they take ours or give us theirs.”
Decease and Disease
It is generally believe that towards the closing years of his life Swift became mad, in fact, it is even claimed that parts of Gulliver’s travel were clearly the work of a madman. The tradition of his madness has been rejected for forty years by every qualified scholar and for a hundred years the medical experts have clear him. He died on October 19, 1745. Translated into English his epitaph reads,
“Here is laid the body of Jonathan Swift, doctor of divinity, Dean of this Cathedral, buried here where fierce indignation can lacerate his heart no more. Go, traveler, and imitate if you can one who strove his utmost to champion human liberty.”
Swift's greatest satire, Gulliver's Travels, is considered one of the most important works in the history of world literature. Gulliver's Travels depicts one man's journeys to several strange and unusual lands. The general theme of Gulliver's Travels is a satirical examination of human nature, man's potential for depravity, and the dangers of the misuse of reason. Throughout the volume Swift attacked the baseness of humankind even as he suggested the greatest virtues of the human race; he also attacked the folly of human learning and political systems even as he implied the proper functions of art, science, and government. Each of the four voyages in Gulliver's Travels serves as a vehicle for Swift to expose and excoriate some aspect of human folly. Its publisher says
“The style is very plain and simple; and the only Fault I find is, that the Author, after the Manner of Travelers, is a little too circumstantial. There is an Air of Truth apparent through the whole; and indeed the Author was so distinguished for his Veracity, that it became a Sort of Proverb among his Neighbors at Redriff, when any one affirmed a Thing, to say it was as true as if Mr. Gulliver had spoke it”
Gulliver's Travels is the fictional account of four extraordinary voyages made by Lemuel Gulliver, a physician who signs on to serve as a ship's surgeon when he is unable to provide his family with a sufficient income in London.
Part I: A Voyage to Lilliput
(May 4, 1699 — April 13, 1702)
After being shipwrecked Gulliver first arrives at Lilliput, an island whose inhabitants are just six inches tall and where the pettiness of the political system is mirrored in the diminutive size of its citizens. Gulliver is referred to as the "Man-
Mountain" by the Lilliputians. After giving assurances of his good behaviour, he is given a residence in Lilliput and becomes a favourite of the court. From there, the book follows Gulliver's observations on the Court of Lilliput, which is intended to satirize the court of George I. Gulliver assists the Lilliputians in a nonsensical war with the neighboring island of Blefuscudians. Later by some conspiracy, Gulliver is charged with treason and sentenced to be blinded. With the assistance of a kind friend, Gulliver escapes to Blefuscu, where he spots and retrieves an abandoned boat and sails out to be rescued by a passing ship which safely takes him back home. In this voyage, we read allegorical satire of the political events of the early eighteenth century, a commentary on the moral state of England, a general satire on the pettiness of human desires for wealth and power, and a depiction of the effects of unwarranted pride and self-promotion. The war with the tiny neighboring island of Blefuscu represents England's rivalry with France.
Part II: A Voyage to Brobdingnag
(June 20, 1702 — June 3, 1706)
The second voyage takes him to Brobdingnag. Where he abandoned by his companions and found by a farmer who is 72 feet tall. He brings Gulliver home and his daughter cares for Gulliver. Gulliver's comparatively tiny size now makes him wholly dependent on the protection and solicitude of others, and he is imperiled by dangerous encounters with huge rats and a curious toddler. Gulliver, however, incurs the disdain of the kindly and virtuous Brobdingnagian rulers when his gunpowder display, intended to impress his hosts as an exemplary product of European civilization, proves disastrous. An address Gulliver delivers to the Brobdingnagians describing English political practices of the day is also met with much scorn. Housed in a miniature box, Gulliver abruptly departs Brobdingnag when a giant eagle flies off with him and drops him in the ocean where he is picked up by some sailors, who return him to England. During this voyage we come to know that how perspective and viewpoint alter one's condition and claims to power in society. The imperfect, yet highly moral Brobdingnagians represent, according to many critics, Swift's conception of ethical rulers.
Part III: A Voyage to Laputa etc
(August 5, 1706 — April 16, 1710)
He soon embarks on his third voyage to the flying island of Laputa, a mysterious land inhabited by scientists, magicians, and sorcerers who engage in abstract theorizing and conduct ill-advised experiments based on flawed calculations. Here Gulliver also visits Glubbdubdrib where it is possible to summon the dead and to converse with such figures as Aristotle and Julius Caesar. He also travels to Luggnagg, where he encounters the Struldbrugs, a group of people who
are given immortality, yet are condemned to live out their eternal existence trapped in feeble and decrepit bodies. There is a scathing attack upon science in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and reveals Swift's thorough acquaintance with the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, the leading publication of the scientific community of his day. The third voyage unequivocally manifests Swift's contempt and disdain for abstract theory and ideology that is not of practical service to humans.
Part IV: A Voyage to Houyhnhnms
September 7, 1710 – July 2, 1715
His forth journey takes him to the land of the Houyhnhnms, who are a superior race of intelligent horses. Here he comes to understand that the horses are the rulers and the deformed creatures are human beings in their base form. Soon he comes to both admire and emulate the Houyhnhnms and their lifestyle, rejecting humans as merely Yahoos endowed with some semblance of reason which they only use to exacerbate and add to the vices Nature gave them. However, an Assembly of the Houyhnhnms rules that Gulliver, a Yahoo with some semblance of reason, is a danger to their civilization and he is expelled. He is then rescued, against his will, by a Portuguese ship and returns to his home in England. However, he is unable to reconcile himself to living among Yahoos; he becomes a recluse (loner), remaining in his house, largely avoiding his family and his wife, and spending several hours a day speaking with the horses in his stables. The land of the Houyhnhnms that reveals Swift's ultimate satiric object— man's inability to come to terms with his true nature. In particular, the Houyhnhnms are interpreted as symbols and examples of a human order that, although unattainable, deserves to remain an ideal, while the Yahoos are found to be the representatives of the depths of humanity's potential fall if that ideal is abandoned. Critical Reception Gulliver's Travels has always been Swift's most discussed work. Critics have provided a wide variety of interpretations of each of the four voyages, of Swift's satiric targets, and of the narrative voice. But scholars agree that most crucial to an understanding of Gulliver's Travels is an understanding of the fourth voyage, to the land of the Houyhnhnms. Merrel D. Clubb has noted that
“The longer that one studies Swift, the more obvious it becomes that the interpretations and verdict to be placed on the 'Voyage to the Houyhnhnms' is, after all, the central problem of Swift criticism."
The nature of Gulliver is another much-debated element of the Travels. Early critics generally viewed him as the mouthpiece of Swift. Modern critics, who recognize the subtlety of Swift's creation of Gulliver, have discredited that position that whether he is meant to be a consistently realized character, a reliable narrator, or a satiric object whose opinions are the object of Swift's ridicule. This debate over
the nature of Gulliver is important because critics seek to determine whether Gulliver is intended to be a man with definite character traits who undergoes a transformation, or an allegorical representative of humanity. In general, Gulliver is now considered a flexible persona manipulated by Swift to present a diversity of views or satirical situations and to indicate the complexity, the ultimate in definability, of human nature. Some commentators believed that psychoanalytic critics also make an obvious mistake when they identify Swift with his characters, assuming, for example, that Gulliver's comments reflect the opinions of his creator. Close textual analysis has demonstrated the complicated elements of Swift's works and proven that they do not always reflect his personal opinions, but are carefully written to reflect the opinions of Swift's created narrators.
To sum up It would be appropriate to say that the character of Gulliver is a remarkable creation of swift. Through this character, Swift has not only highlighted the prevailing vices rather he emphatically suggests the solution to bring his society on track. He was not a Misanthrope rather he hated the vices and immoral strategies of this century’s government. For him, they were self-centered and their interests and desires revolved around them. Gulliver’s Travel, alternately considered an attack on humanity or a cleareyed assessment of human strengths and weaknesses, is a complex study of human nature and of the moral, philosophical, and scientific thought of Swift's time which has resisted any single definition of meaning for nearly three centuries.
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