Gulliver's Travels


Symbols and Themes


Themes are the central topics of a work.


Despite his family’s wish for him to stay in England, Gulliver cannot seem to quell his adventurous spirit. However, Gulliver’s love of travel is also a source of great consternation for the protagonist. For Gulliver, traveling and sailing are not purely for enjoyment; instead, Gulliver pushes himself to incorporate intellectual matters into his world travels. Still, his travels nearly kill him on multiple occasions. In addition to fighting for his life against strangers, Gulliver’s crewmates attack him. Gulliver’s adventures, it seems, always come at a high price.

Human Pettiness

It is widely known that Gulliver’s Travels satirizes the European government (specifically England and France) and religion. More specifically, the novel shows how the pettiest differences can cause problems for human beings. The disagreement between the two Lilliputian religious sects over how to crack an egg exemplifies how the smallest actions can quickly spiral out of control. Most of the beings that Gulliver encounters cannot see past their minor disagreements between themselves and others on the outside.


Many of Gulliver’s adventures highlight human beings and creatures who have frustrating quirks and interests. Often, the people and creatures Gulliver encounters are especially adept in certain disciplines, but utterly lacking in others. Although left for the reader to discern, Gulliver’s interactions constantly pose the question: Did the residents and creatures of each particular place seek out and desire certain qualities, or were they born into specific destinies? Did the government insist on residents acting a specific way, or would the residents act like this anyway? Gulliver himself becomes more misanthropic as his adventures continue, suggesting that perhaps his adventures shaped his...

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Essays About Gulliver's Travels