A Perception of Humanity
In 1726, Jonathan Swift published a book for English readers. This book appears to be a travel log, made to record the adventures of a man, Gulliver, on four of the incredulous voyages imaginable. However, Gulliver’s Travels is a work of satire. Satire is a way of using humor to show that someone or something is foolish, weak, or bad: humor that shows the weaknesses or bad qualities of a person, a government, or a society. Gulliver in the book is not an altogether distinguishable person, but he is a satiric device that enables Swift to make satirical points. The book begins with more specific satire, perhaps on one political instance or a particular custom, but by the end of the book, Swift makes a savage assault on all of humanity. To convey this satire, Gulliver is taken on four adventures. Hi first journey takes him to the land of Lilliput, where he finds himself a giant among six-inch beings. Gulliver’s next journey brings him to Brobdingnag, where the situation is reversed and he is in a land of giants. Yet another journey takes him to Laputa, a floating island where there are odd, but similar sized, beings. Gulliver’s fourth and final journey places him in the land of Houyhnhnm, an intelligent society of reasoning horses. As Swift leads Gulliver on these journeys, Gulliver’s world view changes giving Swift ample opportunity to inject satire of the England of his day and of human beings in general.
Swift ties his satire closely with Gulliver's perceptions and adventures. In Gulliver's first adventure, he is shipwrecked and wakes up a prisoner to many six-inch Lilliputians. Gulliver eventually learns their language, and arranges a contract with them for his freedom. However, he is bound an agreement to protect Lilliput from invasion by the people of Blefuscu. The Lilliputians relate to him the following story: In Lilliput, years ago, people once broke eggs on the big end. However, the present king's...
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