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Gulliver's Travels More Than an Adventure

Gulliver's Travels More Than an Adventure

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Published by: AbdulRehman on Feb 07, 2010
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“Gulliver’s Travels” has established itself as a classic for young people. Its appeal to young minds is due to the fact that it is, on the surface, an adventure story and a fanciful account of strange and wonderful lands. It is on a superficial view, a novel of adventure and a tale of wonder. The young mind is greatly attracted by adventures and by fanciful accounts such as we come across in “Arabian Nights” entertainment. However, it is not enough to describe this book in these terms. It is much more than an adventure story or a fairy tale. On a closer look it will be found to be a satire, and a bitter one, on mankind in general and on English politics and politicians of the time in particular. Thus we have to approach this work in two ways: we have to treat it as an adventure story, and we have then to probe it deeper in order to grasp and appreciate its satirical purpose. “Gulliver’s Travels” tells the story of the various voyages undertaken by a man called Lemuel Gulliver. Every voyage is an adventure in itself. In the course of the first voyage, Gulliver gets ship-wrecked and has to swim to the shore to save his life. On the sea shore, he falls asleep and, when he wakes up, he finds himself a prisoner in chains. In the course of the second voyage, Gulliver’s ship is overtaken by a fierce storm. When, after the storm, the ship casts anchor and a few sailors including Gulliver go to the shore, Gulliver is captured by a giant. In the course of his third voyage, Gulliver’s ship is attacked by pirates. In the course of his fourth voyage, Gulliver is attacked by the members of the crew of his own ship and is bound hand and foot. Thus each time Gulliver goes through certain difficulties and dangers. All such adventures are sure to fascinate young readers who will find the story to be gripping. Gulliver’s experiences in the various countries which he visits are also such as will hold the young reader’s attention. Every land which Gulliver visits is a wonderful land, and Gulliver’s experiences everywhere are strange or exciting or amusing.. In Lilliput, people are pigmies. The very idea that there are human beings so small is funny. The manner in which Gulliver is caught, chained and provided with food is very amusing. Gulliver becomes the object of curiosity in the metropolis. The customs of Lilliput are also a source of great amusement to us. Brobdingnag is another strange and wonderful land. This land is inhabited by monstrous looking giants who are twelve times the height of Gulliver. Here, too, Gulliver becomes an object of curiosity for the inhabitants, though for the opposite reason. The animals and the insects are also very huge in this land. For example, the cat here is three times larger than the ox in England, a rat here is of the size of a big dog. Gulliver meets several mishaps here and they are all bound to interest the young reader. Laputa is yet another wonderful world. Laputa is an island which keeps flying through the air at a height of about two miles from the earth. The things there are of geometrical shapes and the projects at the Academy of Projectors in Lagado are very interesting and amusing. Gulliver’s last voyage takes him to the land of Houyhnhnms and Yahoos. The Houyhnhnms are the horses having intellect and reason while the Yahoos are of the shape of human beings but brute and beasts. The Houyhnhnms have a wonderful organization and a perfect system by which they govern themselves. The account of the ways of life of the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos is also a part of the fanciful story which Swift tells us in this famous work. But, as has already been indicated at the outset, “Gulliver’s Travels” is much more than an adventure story. It is a great satiric masterpiece. Swift’s object in writing it was to “vex” the world by exposing the evils, follies, and absurdities of human life. A direct and

outspoken criticism or condemnation of the follies and faults of human beings is bound to offend the readers. A satire is a veiled and indirect condemnation of the victims. “Gulliver’s Travels” is one of the bitterest indictments of the human race in English literature. The whole book is written in a fanciful manner, but beneath the fiction and under the surface there lies a serious purpose. Swift’s purpose was not just to divert his readers but to startle and shock them. Swift, in part I of the book, attacks on the political institutions and the politicians of his time. Flimnap, the treasurer in Lilliput represents Sir Walpole to whom Swift was bitterly opposed. Dancing on the tight rope symbolizes Walpole’s skill in parliamentary tactics. The three silk threads which were awarded to the winners of various contests refer to the distinction conferred by the King on his favourites. The Big-Endians and the Small-Endians represent the Roman Catholics and the Protestants. Swift’s satire becomes more bitter and pungent in part II. The satire becomes bitterer when Gulliver gives to the King of Brobdingnag an account of the political institutions of England, the latter observes that the history of Gulliver’s country is only a heap of conspiracies, rebellions and murders. The King’s conclusion is that the bulk of the people of Gulliver’s country are the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth. The satire in part III is not so bitter as in some of the chapters of part II. The satire in part III is, indeed, light hearted. Here Swift pokes fun at the people whose sole interests are music and geometry and who are so busy in their own meditations that they have no time to make love with their wives and their wives are engaged with the other people. There is also satire on the useless projects and inventions of the Royal Society in England in those days. The fourth travel of Gulliver contains the most scornful satire on mankind that we can imagine. Here the Yahoos are intended to represent human beings. Gulliver is astonished and horrified on seeing the physical resemblance between the Yahoos and persons of his own race. Houyhnhnms are the horses with reason and intellect and govern themselves by reason and morality. Apart from paying tribute to the Houyhnhnms, Swift makes Gulliver launch a direct attack on his country men.

Written & Composed By: Prof. A.R.Somroo M.A. English, M.A. Education Cell: 03339971417


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