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Gulliver's Travel

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Although Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift has long been thought of as a children's story, it is actually a dark satire on the fallacies of human nature. The four parts of the book are arranged in a planned sequence, to show Gulliver's optimism and lack of shame with the Lilliputians, decaying into his shame and disgust with humans when he is in the land of the Houyhnhmns. The Brobdingnagians are more hospitable than the Lilliputians, but Gulliver's attitude towards them is more disgusted and bitter. Gulliver's tone becomes even more critical of the introspective people of Laputa and Lagado, and in Glubbdubdrib he learns the truth about modern man. Gulliver finds the Luggnuggians to be a "polite and generous people" (III, 177), until he learns that the Struldbruggs' immortality is a curse rather than a blessing. Throughout the course of Gulliver's Travels, Gulliver's encounters with each culture signify a progression from benevolence towards man to misanthropy, resulting in Gulliver's final insanity.

In the first part of the book, Gulliver arrives on a strange island and wakes up tied to the ground by a culture of six-inch tall Lilliputians. Gulliver is amazed by the skill of the Lilliputians in handling him, but he is offended by their disrespect: " my Thoughts I could not sufficiently wonder at the Intrepidity of these diminutive Mortals, who durst venture to mount and walk on my Body, while one of my Hands was at Liberty, without trembling at the very Sight of so prodigious a Creature as I must appear to them" (I, 8). However, Gulliver complies with every inconvenience that the Lilliputians bestow on him, because he allows them to take him prisoner even though he could destroy them with one stomp. It is rather amusing that Gulliver surrenders to these tiny people so quickly: "...when I felt the Smart of their Arrows upon my Face and Hands...I gave Tokens to let them know that they might do with me what they pleased" (I, 9). They also tie Gulliver up as if he were a dog, and search his pockets in order to confiscate any weapons, among numerous other actions in which Gulliver placidly succumbs. No matter how respectful Gulliver is, however, it is negated by his lack of shame. By urinating on the queen's palace to put out a fire, he does not realize that he offended the queen immensely, and this is the cause for his impeachment. By making these people small, Swift seems to be criticizing man's petty nature, but Gulliver is oblivious and gullible, treating them as if they are bigger than they actually are. Gulliver's attitude towards the Lilliputians shows that he has respect for humanity, no matter how small, even though the respect is not returned.

In contrast to the tiny, petty Lilliputians, the Brobdingnagians are huge and unexpectedly docile. Gulliver's expectation when he sees the first Brobdingnagian is rather pessimistic: " For, as human Creatures are observed to be more Savage and cruel in Proportion to their Bulk; what could I expect but to be a Morsel in the Mouth of the first among these enormous Barbarians who should happen to seize me?" (II, 66). Gulliver's expectations turn out to be the opposite, for he is treated as an object of wonder, instead of food. Even though they are more cordial than the trivial Lilliputians, Gulliver notices more flaws in the Brobdingnagians, namely in the defects of their skin. By noticing this, Gulliver has in effect become as petty as the Lilliputians, because the outside of a person is the most trivial aspect to their much larger nature. Gulliver also behaves in a more shameful way about his bodily functions around the Brobdingnagians, for while he shamelessly urinates on the palace in Lilliput, in Brobdingnag he hides in a sorrel leaf. Perhaps Gulliver's attitude is a result of the dehumanizing way in which he feels small and insignificant in an otherwise huge world. His feeling of insignificance is magnified by the manner in which he is handled: as a toy, a thing, an animal, an alien, a freak, and a machine. Gulliver is startled when he sees himself and the queen next to each other in a mirror: "...there could nothing be more ridiculous than the Comparison: So that I really began to imagine my self dwindled many Degrees below my usual Size" (II, 85). From this statement it is apparent that the Brobdingnagians are as symbolically huge as the Lilliputians are small: they represent true moral human nature, but Gulliver is too small to see it.

Where the first two parts of the book concern the physical size of people, the third voyage concerns the scientific, mental side, as demonstrated by the Laputians who inhabit a floating island. Gulliver finds them both impractical and difficult to communicate with: "I have not seen a more clumsy, awkward, and unhandy People, nor so slow and perplexed in their Conceptions upon all other Subjects, except those of Mathematicks and Musick" (III, 136). In this book, Gulliver criticizes the culture more openly than he does in the previous two books, and he sums up the problem with this society as follows: "I rather take this Quality to spring from a very common Infirmity of human Nature, inclining us to be more curious and conceited in Matters where we have least Concern, and for which we are least adapted either by Study or Nature" (II, 137). As Swift satirizes the people who absorb themselves so much into the scientific world that they cannot communicate with others, Gulliver as a character becomes more aware of the dark side of human nature. The floating of the island is a metaphor of the side of humanity that is the mind, which often floats away from the body and becomes isolated, which is a stark contrast to the previous two books which describe the more physical side of humanity.

Gulliver becomes even more disgusted with the inhabitants of the country that lies below the floating island of Laputa. He discovers that the people are entirely absorbed in scientific experiments that are absolutely



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