Satire in Gulliver's Travels

Topics: Satire, Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift Pages: 3 (963 words) Published: October 8, 2012
Satire in Gulliver’s Travels
Jonathan Swift’s renowned novel Gulliver’s Travels is possibly the greatest work of literary satire ever written. Ever since its publication, it has been an important and thought-provoking piece in English literature. As defined by a dictionary, satire is “The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues”. Originally, when it was first published, Swift refused to sign the book, fearing prosecution from the government. Swift himself admits that he penned ‘Gulliver’s Travels‘ in order "to vex the world rather than divert it." In this novel, the main character, Gulliver, travels to four very different lands. He is exposed to a vast array of political and social settings, and his view on politics and the human race as a whole deteriorates as the journey progresses. Often thought to be misanthropic, Swift uses satire to express his own unfavorable opinion on humanity, knowledge, and government.

During the first journey Gulliver finds himself on an island ruled by people who are only 6 inches tall. He is a giant in this foreign land, but he respects the tiny natives. The main thing Swift satirizes in this journey is the trivial politics of his native England. On the island, which is called Lilliput, there are two rival forces - the high heels and the low heels. About these parties, it is said "that for above seventy Moons past there have been two struggling Parties in this Empire, under the Names of Tramecksan and Slamecksan, from the high and low Heels on their shoes, by which they distinguish themselves." During the life of Jonathan Swift, politics in England were greatly controlled by two parties called the Whigs and Tories, just as Lilliput is manned by the high and low heels. Using these two parties, Swift paints a picture of trivial differences between them. This is satirizing what Swift really...
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