Narrative Technique in Gulliver's Travels

Topics: Satire, Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift Pages: 3 (1154 words) Published: May 23, 2013


Jonathon Swift's Gulliver's Travels is an early representation of a novel, resonating both political and social satire. Despite the obvious satirical elements in this text, Gulliver's unreliable narrative voice is a satire within itself. Mocking the travel narratives contemporary of his time, Swift utilizes the narration of Gulliver in order to criticize the naïve and gullible English men and women who read travel narratives as factual documents despite the overt Royalist paraphernalia and overly descriptive aspects. The text commences with "A Letter from Captain Gulliver to His Cousin Simpson," creating the framework of Swift's satire of contemporary travel documents. Within the very first sentence of this letter Gulliver already states that he urgently published this "very loose and incorrect account of [his] travels". This statement signals to the reader that Swift is purposely conveying his narrator as unreliable, and furthermore, he writes "I do here renounce...a paragraph about her Majesty the late Queen Anne, of most pious and glorious memory". The statements conjointly set up Swift's satire of the travel narrative with both elements of "loose and incorrect" travel accounts, as well as a parody of Royalist paraphernalia. The writing flows along as the narrator's thoughts and memories surface within his mind, with some ideas sparking new ones, which leads to a chain of connected clauses. This style gives the writing a diary or travelogue like quality, where one continues the train of thought unabated. Another particular style found in the writing is the deadpan explanation of details, especially quantitative details. The narrator rarely elaborates on how he is feeling or thinking, but supplies the reader with an abundance of facts and figures of his surroundings and situation. The unreliability of the narrator runs throughout the text, and is presumably Swift's method of satirizing the unreliable narrations...
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