Gulliver’s Travels By Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift 1667 - 1745
Irish • Swift was Irish. He was born in Dublin in 1667
What are the similarities between Lemuel Gulliver in Gulliver’s Travels and Robinson Crusoe?
Both have an uncontrollable urge to travel. • Both are shipwrecked and are the only crew members to survive.
Gulliver meets many people on his travels. He is never alone. • Gulliver can speak many languages and learns the language of every country that he visits. • Gulliver is interested in learning about other cultures and customs.
Robinson Crusoe thinks that the English are naturally superior to all other races, particularly non-Christians. • Lemuel Gulliver develops a deep mistrust and hatred of human beings in general and over the novel the English are frequently criticised.
In some ways it seems like a children’s story, but…. Gulliver’s Travels is a SATIRE
Satire • Although satire is usually meant to be funny, the purpose of satire is not primarily humour in itself. • It is an attack on something of which the author strongly disapproves, using the weapon of wit.
True Story? • Like Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels is written as though it is TRUE. • Of course nobody thought it was true, but it makes it more entertaining and more SATIRICAL.
A story with 4 parts: • Gulliver’s Travels is divided into 4 parts. • Each part begins with Gulliver arriving alone in a strange land. • Each part ends with him returning home to England to his family.
Lilliput • Part One: In Lilliput Gulliver is a giant. The Lilliputians are all 6 inches tall.
At first in seems that feeding Gulliver could be so expensive for the Lilliputians that it may cause a famine. • Later they make use of Gulliver in their war with a country called Blefescu • They want Gulliver to completely destroy the Blefescuans but he refuses.
Ridiculous War • The Lilliputians and the Blefuscuans are at war over the correct way to break an egg. • Those who break the small end are Small Endians and those who break the big end are Big Endians. • Gulliver reports this as though it is completely reasonable.
This is a satire of religious wars over tiny points of religious doctrine.
Brodbingnag • Part Two: In Brodbingnag he is tiny, and everyone else seems like a giant to him.
First he is treated like a toy or a show and people pay to come and see him. • Then he is invited to live with the King and Queen. • He tries to tell the King about gunpowder, but the King is horrified at the idea of such destruction.
Laputa, Balnibari, Luggnagg and Glubbdubdrib • Part Three: In part three he visits four countries.
Laputa • Laputa is an island that floats in the air. • They are extremely impractical and cannot concentrate on any conversation
Balnibari • In Balnibari people are obsessed by music and mathematics. • They are bored by Gulliver.
Luggnagg • In Luggnagg ghosts of famous people from the past are called forth. • Gulliver is disappointed by many of them.
Glubbdubdrib • In Glubbdubdrib people are occasionally born immortal. • These people are called struldbrugs. • Gulliver thinks this is wonderful, until he realises that the struldbrugs still become old and infirm and then long for death.
Land of the Houyhnhnms • Part Four: Gulliver is most affected by his final journey. He loves the houyhnhnms and wishes to stay with them, but cannot.
The Houyhnhnms share their country with a race of wild, stupid, filthy creatures called Yahoos. • To The Houyhnhnms Gulliver looks like a Yahoo. • When Gulliver returns to England at the end of the book, he cannot bear to be around people or look in the mirror, he is so horrified by the human race.
The Houyhnhnms are clever, peaceful and trustworthy. • But they are passionless and dull. • In the end human beings are somewhere between Houyhnhnms and Yahoos.
Gulliver at the end of the story… • By the end of the book, Gulliver has basically been driven mad. • He cannot bear to look at his wife and family. • He buys some horses and spends his time talking to them.
A Modest Proposal • A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public.
Swift appears to suggest in his essay that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies.
At this time many poor Irish Catholics were starving. • Swift felt that the English and wealthy Irish landowners were to blame.
Often satire seems very shocking - like the idea of eating children - this makes it more POWERFUL. • Swift wanted people to see that allowing people to starve to death was as immoral as selling children for food.