Gulliver's Travels: Success as a Satire?

Topics: Gulliver's Travels, Satire, Jonathan Swift Pages: 2 (688 words) Published: September 24, 2006
The success of a satire is often measured by how well it "awakens thoughtful laughter." Based on this statement, Jonathan Swift's novel, Gulliver's Travels, is very successful as a satire because at a very superficial level, it is quite amusing with its tales of dwarfs and giants; however, when considering the time period in which this book was written and the historical problems of this era, the reader finds himself laughing on another level, realizing the satirizing of the government and humanity that can be found in each of the four books in this novel.

Gulliver's first voyage to Lilliput can clearly be interpreted as a satire on human greatness and an attack on England. After Gulliver's ship is blown off course and shipwrecked. On the surface, this story of prideful and smug humans who are no more than six inches high is absolutely hilarious. Symbolizing humanity's excessive pride, Swift portrays the irony by having the smallest group of people act the most self-righteousness. Gulliver is first impressed with the Lilliputians since they seem so intelligent and organized and the attention the royal court gives him; therefore, he completely overlooks how provincial the Lilliputians are. Had Gulliver not been so ingenuous and gullible, the frivolous threats made by these little people would not have been so effective since they have no real power over Gulliver. However, it shows the self-important and pompous ways of the Lillputians. Book I satirizes the government since the people are not chosen based on ability, but rather on how high they can jump or how well they can balance on a tightrope and other completely irrelevant talents. Also, with their city full of excessive patriotic displays, the need for these people to boost their already outrageous egos is shown. This misplaced pride is satirized throughout the first book.

On his second voyage, Gulliver travels to Brobdingnag, which Swift uses to satirize human privacy very detailed and magnified. In...
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