A Utopia in Brobdingnag

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A Utopia in Brobdingnag

Just as the French philosopher Rabelais had an immense influence on Swift, Thomas More, the English philosopher, also had a significant influence that one can see in Swift’s greatest satire, Gulliver’s Travels, especially during Gulliver’s voyage to Brobdingnag. In this part of the book Swift uses Utopia, More’s writing, to emphasize the immorality of the English, and bases his second book, set in Brobdingnag, on the ideas that More presents in his own book. Although all Brobdingnagians do not possess all of the same qualities that the Utopians possess, Swift uses many of the Utopian characteristics, such as morality and logic, and incorporates them into his Brobdingnagian world. The most prevalent and important characteristic that both Brobdingnagians and Utopians possess is the idea of morality. In Gulliver’s Travels Swift uses the size of the Brobdingnagians comparatively to Gulliver as an indication of their levels of morality. As the Brobdingnagians are large giants their level of morality is high, and compared to these highly moral people Gulliver is merely a midget, a small English man with low moral standards that stem from his upbringing in England. The government contributes to many of these moral problems that take place in England. However, in Brobdingnag the government is based on the characteristics of common sense, justice, mercy, and understandable laws. It is a simple government that, unlike the government in England, has no refinements, secrets, or mysteries. Like in Utopia, Brobdingnagians learn only specific subjects: morality, history, poetry, and practical mathematics. They learn only what is necessary, and are not able to think in abstract ways. Their laws must be clear, concise, and only contain twenty-two words. Commenting on the law is considered a capital crime and receives a severe punishment. Although the laws and customs are understandable, they are also ideal...