Gulliver’s Travels Novel Analysis
1. The Author and His Times
Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin, Ireland on November 30, 1667. Swift was raised by his uncle and graduated from Trinity College. Swift would later become the secretary for an influential member of the Whig party which began to influence his political views to lie on the Whig side. A few years later he became a parson for the Irish Church. As he worked as a chaplain, he began to write the satires that he would later become famous for. He was eventually criticized for his adherence to the Church of Ireland and was cast off by the Whig Party. He joined the Tories who soon fell out of political contention. As he lost his popularity, he returned to Ireland. It was during a trip to England, that Swift became acquaintances with such writers as Alexander Pope. They attended a literary club and it was during this time that Swift wrote the majority of Gulliver’s Travels. The book was a satire of several major aspects of English society and was originally not published in full because of several passages which were considered to be in bad taste. Gulliver’s Travels was influenced by the growing English empire and the folly of its monarchs as well as religion. The first printer that Swift talked to, refused to print the novel in full, out of a fear of being accused of treason.
2. Form, Structure, and Plot
The Novel consists of two letters to the reader and four additional sections of prose. These four sections are each divided into chapters. The novel is structured as a retelling of the speaker’s many voyages to new and uncharted lands. The story is told chronologically after brief background given by the speaker. The plot is simple and basically only follows the action of the speaker. As a novel based on a voyage, a critical facet of the plot is the change observed in the author once he returns from his trip.
3. Point of View
The point of view in the novel is strictly a first person point of view. It is written in the present tense as the action is described exactly as Gulliver experiences it. The point of view is that of Gulliver, the protagonist. Gulliver is somewhat strange as a narrator because he seems to have almost no emotion or opinions in his descriptions of his misadventures.
The characters in the novel are very flat and do not develop. The exception to this is Gulliver, the protagonist. He is the only character who grows at the end of the novel. The characters are not very believable, instead serving more as stereotypes or archetypes for some idea. We learn Gulliver has grown and changed his ideals by the end of the novel because of how he asks towards humans, showing he is changed by his time with the Houyhnhnms.
- Lemuel Gulliver- Gulliver was born into a middle class family in England and went to University to study medicine. He is most likely in his thirties. Gulliver is resourceful, learned, but yet, quite normal as well. Gulliver is basically an everyman. Gulliver enjoys adventure on the high seas but is also somewhat apathetic especially towards characters like his Wife, who is barely even mentioned in the novel. Gulliver functions as the protagonist of the novel and narrator as well.
“Accordingly, the next time I had the honour to see our emperor, I desired his general license to wait on the Blefuscudian monarch, which he was pleased to grant me, as I could perceive, in a very cold manner; but could not guess the reason, till I had a whisper from a certain person, "that Flimnap and Bolgolam had represented my intercourse with those ambassadors as a mark of disaffection;" from which I am sure my heart was wholly free. And this was the first time I began to conceive some imperfect idea of courts and ministers.” (1.5.7)
This quote shows the side of Gulliver that is naive. Gulliver is accused of treason for speaking with the rival king of the Liliputians but fails to recognize how this...
Cited: Fox, Christopher. The Cambridge Companion to Jonathan Swift. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
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Knowles, Ronald. Gulliver’s Travels: The Politics of Satire. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1996.
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