Materialism in Gulliver's Travels and Candide

Topics: Gulliver's Travels, Candide, Jonathan Swift Pages: 4 (1517 words) Published: October 18, 2010
Writers can make suggestions or to try to change something about a society or simply to poke fun or satirize a part of a culture. Often these writings are aimed at a specific group of people. In the case of Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels and Voltaire in Candide, their writing is aimed at European society and its preoccupation with materialism. Swift and Voltaire satirize the behaviors of the wealthy upper class by citing two different extremes. In Gulliver’s Travels the yahoos are not even human but they behave the same way towards colored stones that the Europeans do. In contrast, the people of El Dorado do not care at all about the gold and jewels that align their streets. The writers are hoping that perhaps the reader will see parts of himself in the writing and change his ways. Both Swift and Voltaire use absurdity to show the European fixation with material goods.

In Gulliver’s Travels, Swift uses the yahoo’s behavior to portray the European preoccupation with material goods. In the Houyhnhnm’s country the yahoos are very attached to the brightly colored stones, while the Houyhnhnms on the other hand, have no interest in these stones in the least. The Houyhnhnms cannot begin to understand the yahoo’s preoccupation with finding, retrieving, and hiding the stones, which are found throughout the countryside, sometimes partially buried in the ground. The yahoos will go to great lengths to possess these stones. That in some fields of his country there are certain shining stones of several colours, whereof the yahoos are violently fond, and when part of these stones are fixed in the earth as it sometimes happeneth, they will dig with their claws for whole days to get them out, carry them away, and hide them by heaps in their kennels; but still looking round with great caution, for fear their comrades should find out their treasure. (257) If one of these stones is stolen, the yahoo will scream and yell, refuse to eat, and generally be...
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