Jonathan Swift's Use of Satire in the First Two Voyages of Gulliver's Travels

Topics: Gulliver's Travels, Satire, Jonathan Swift Pages: 3 (915 words) Published: May 31, 2006
What does Jonathan Swift
Satirise in the first two Voyages of Gulliver's Travels?

It is evident that Gulliver's Travels, written by Jonathan Swift, is a misanthropic anatomy of human nature; a mockery of our society. Swift uses satire to great effect, in an attempt to display and criticise various vices of his country, strongly expressing his personal views, including his thoughts on underestimation, war and politics. He was well known for his sharp, biting wit, and his bitter criticism of all his nation's ills. Swift used the tale of a susceptible traveller exploring strange lands to reveal some of the inane and ridiculous elements of his own country.

Gulliver's first adventure takes him to Lilliput, a land of small bodied people who stood no more than six inches high, but had the power to seize the mighty Gulliver. During this time, Swift recognised that England was a relatively small country that had great influence on Europe and relates this phenomenon to the small stature of the Lilliputians. By comparing Lilliput to England, Swift is capable of humiliating England's weaknesses. For example, in describing the government of Lilliput, Swift explains that officials are selected based on how well they can play two games, Rope-Dancing and Leaping and Creeping. Swift also states that whoever performs well at these games is rewarded with a coloured silk. By placing the politicians in rather ridiculous positions, Swift criticises English government, suggesting that no skill is needed to become a Member of Parliament, and that people in power are generally foolish and imprudent. Swift reinforces his opinion when he compares gaining the position of an MP to that of merely obtaining a coloured silk; evidently illustrating his view that the acquisition of such a title is just a worthless "prize". Besides satirising politics, Jonathan Swift criticises many other faults that he observed in England. The unexpected intrusion of giant Gulliver into the...
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