You are on page 1of 2

“GULLIVER’S TRAVELS” -- A NEUROTIC PHANTASY?

Not a neurotic Phantasy, but a Basically Realistic Work:

One of the critical approaches to “Gulliver’s Travels” is to regard this book as a
neurotic Phantasy. The word “Phantasy” means a fanciful or unrealistic piece of writing,
while the word “neurotic” suggests a mental disorder. This means that “Gulliver’s Travels”
could be the product of a deranged mind. Now, there is no doubt that there are certain
morbid elements in this book; nor is three any doubt that it is a fanciful account of the
experiences of a man called Gulliver. But it would not be a correct assessment of this work to
regard it as the fanciful product of a disordered mind. On the contrary, it is a brilliant work
and it could have been produced only by a man who had closely observed human life and
who at the same time had a genius for satirical writing. “Gulliver’s Travels” is an allegorical
satire. The satire here is not mild but corrosive and fierce. Sometimes the satire is so bitter as
to become unconvincing. But basically the satire in this book is a sound accusing of the
human race.

The Morbid Elements in Part I and II:

The fanciful and morbid character of the writing here is suggested by the fact that in
the first two voyages Gulliver visits lands inhabited by pigmies only six inches high and giants
of huge size respectively. Lilliput is a country of dwarfs, while Brobdingnag is a country of
huge, monstrous looking giants. When an author reduces human beings to the size of
pigmies, and treats them as no better than insects, he is giving evidence of neurotic mind.
Similarly when he looks at human beings through a magnifying glass and depicts them as
huge creatures that bear no proportion to actual human beings, he is giving again evidence of
a sick mind. In Brobdingnag, Gulliver is disgusted to see the monstrous breast of a woman
when she is suckling her child. Her breast “Stood prominent six feet, and could not be less
than sixteen in circumference”. The nipples of her breasts were about half the bigness of
Gulliver’s head and they were covered with pimples and freckles so as to look very
nauseating. The sight of a group of group of beggars in in Brobdingnag is equally disgusting to
Gulliver. The sight of lice crawling on their clothes suggests that the author of this book
probably had a neurotic mind.

The Portrayal of the Yahoos also Suggestive of the author’s Neurotic Mind:

The portrayal of the Yahoos in part IV of the book reinforces the impression that the
author had a neurotic mind. The Yahoos are described as filthy, gluttonous beings that arouse
Gulliver’s hatred and disgust at first sight. The more Gulliver goes near them, the more
detestable they appear to him to be during his stay in that country. Gulliver thinks them to be
the most unteachable of all brutes, having the strongest disposition to mischief. They have
stupid desire of collecting stones and licking the feet and posterior of their leaders. The
female Yahoos are very lustful. Gulliver actually begins to think his own countrymen and even
the members of his own family to be no better than the Yahoos. All this indicates that Swift is
expressing his own profound hatred for the human race.

Gulliver’s Condemnation of His Own Countrymen also Suggestive of a Neurotic Mind:

The matter does not end here. Gulliver gives criticizing account of his countrymen’s
life to his equine master. He ridicules lawyers, judges, doctors and ministers of state. Here we
have a sweeping and wholesale indictment of the human race. The lawyers are described by
him as persons who are trained in the art of proving by words that white is black and black is
white, according as they are paid. Doctors are generally incompetent pretenders who hardly
ever cure any disease, real or imaginary. The ministers in the country have only one passion
1

to human beings. The Invective in Part IV also True to Facts: Part IV of “Gulliver’s Travels” contains unrestrained abusive language. We have plenty of light-hearted and mirthful satire. there is certainly an element of morbidity in this book.A. it is clear that “Gulliver’s Travels” is not a neurotic Phantasy. English. in fact. academics. They use their daughters. again. Towards the close. scientists. intellectuals. The two groups in Lilliput debating over breaking of the egg from either side represent the religious sects in England. Political satire with Deep Roots in Actuality: The criticism of the human race contained in the satire in “Gulliver Travels” is substantially well-found and therefore witty.R. Human beings are here depicted as Yahoos. Wholesome Satire in Part III: In part III.A. The ironic portrayal of Flimnap symbolizes the parliamentary skills of Sir Walpole. both mentally and morally. A. The annoyance of the Empress of Lilliput with Gulliver for having extinguished a fire in her palace by urinating on it was intended by Swift to be a satirical representation of the resentment of Queen Anne against him for having written “A Tale of Tub”. This part of the satire is evidently a criticism of philosophers. this book is a realistic portrayal of the human race. Gulliver Himself Neurotic at the End of the Book: In the light of the above discussion. while horses are shown to be superior. The researches that are going on at the Academy of Projectors suggest the useless work that was being done by the Royal Society of the time. planners. There is also sound criticism on wars and destruction. It is this portion of the book which gives rise to the suspicion that Swift had a neurotic mind. M. wives and sisters to gain positions in the court. Written & Composed BY: Prof. The critics who have been misrepresenting or misinterpreting the works of Homer and Aristotle are also ridiculed. Gulliver himself certainly becomes neurotic. On the whole.of desire for wealth. But there is no reason to believe that Swift approves of Gulliver’s extreme misanthropy. power and titles. all those people who proceed according to theory and become useless when it comes to actual practice. Exaggeration there certainly is. Somroo M. As we have noted. we have some very wholesome satire. but no satire can be written without exaggeration just as the art of the cartoonist cannot flourish without exaggeration. Anybody who has had a real and prolonged experience of human society will not discard this book as a neurotic Phantasy. Education Cell: 03339971417 2 .

Related Interests