Реферат: Satire In Gullivers Travels Essay Research Paper
Satire In Gullivers Travels Essay, Research Paper
Did Jonathan Swift’s literary works reflect the life and times in which he lived? While researching for this paper I have read many criticisms, biographies and articles. In reading those I have come to the conclusion that his works clearly represented his life and times. I hope that by the end of this paper you agree.
Swift’s literary career didn’t begin until he published The Tale of the Tub and The Battle of the Books. Both of these were published anonymously. After his initial plunge into the world of literature Swift wrote a lot of essays. He also became interested in the Tory party and wrote a lot of essays in support of their ideals. The Tories fall from power in 1714 left many of Swifts friends in jail or exiled. He returned to England and began to write more about Irish problems and causes. It wasn’t until 1726 that Swift made his final voyage to England. He brought with him a manuscript for Gulliver’s Travels. It very quickly became successful.
In the seventeenth century, England was primarily an agronomic place. There were many farmers, laborers and tenants that made up most of the population. London was the mercantile, economic, administrative, and social core of England. It had a substantial middle-class and was the residence of the Restoration Court. (McDougal, p334) “The restoration of the monarchy meant the restoration of Parliament and of the established Church of England” (McDougal, p335). Charles, leader of the Anglican Church, wanted to remain tolerable, but the Anglican bishops and the country squires in Parliament took hard maneuvers towards Protestant dissenters and also towards Catholics whom symbolized the French to them. It was illegal to be in any church besides the Church of England. If you broke this law, you were marked a traitor and were no longer able to hold a public position or go to a university. This sparked the division of Parliament into two groups, the Tories and the Whigs. James took away his brother Charles’s throne in 1685. James was bent on converting England from Protestantism to Catholicism. It was because of this desire that the Whig leaders planned to replace James for his daughter Mary and her husband, whom both were practicing Protestants. James eventually gave up his throne and went to the French court. Mary and her husband took over the throne in 1688 and thus “the domination of dissipated royalists in government and the era of violent religious confrontations ended” (McDougal, p336).
The confused and transitional-age in which Swift lived in disposed him to see the conditions of human life as chaotic and difficult. Though he desired and sought nothing more than order and unity, he saw little hope of attaining it in man’s world of deceit (Bloom, p13). The complexity of Swift’s personality was largely influenced by his classical-Christian upbringing and held these values as his ideal self.
According to (Golden, p33), Swift’s vision of the world was built upon blown-up fragments of himself. In many of his writings, Swift observed himself as an acting figure, an example of man caught in certain situations. Knowing that in each partial role he played, the whole man would be diminished. Swift saw himself as an Irishman, priest, teacher, politician, friend, poet, and dignitary (Golden, p34).
Swift’s view of himself when it came to his ambition was conflicting. At times he felt that this was pride, (influenced by his Christian upbringing), and yet other times legitimized his ambition as merely using his God given talents. Such undermining led to fantasies of failure, uncertainty and loneliness and eventually helps fuel the paranoid fears in characters of the Hack and later Gulliver. The character Gulliver also parallels Swifts life of fighting his way through the mists of his own desires and confusion.
Most of Swift’s solutions to problems he presented to us in his writings, is one of compromise (Bloom, p14). Faced by extreme philosophies, extreme moral and political systems, Swift assumes a position between them, follows the middle way which will allow him to take advantage of the partial truths on either side and to drop what seems to him valueless (Bloom, p13). This necessity affects the form and the content of his satires. Generations of schoolchildren raised on the first Book of “Gulliver?s Travels” have loved it as a delightful visit to a fantasy kingdom full of creatures they can relate to little creatures, like themselves. Few casual readers look deeply enough to recognize the satire just below the surface. But Jonathan Swift was one of the great satirists of his or any other age, and “Gulliver?s Travels” is surely the apex of his art.
“Gulliver?s Travels” tells the story of Lemuel Gulliver, a ship?s surgeon who has a number of rather extraordinary adventures, comprising four sections or “Books.” In Book I, his ship is blown off course and Gulliver is shipwrecked. He wakes up flat on his back on the shore, and discovers that he cannot move; he has been bound to the earth by thousands of tiny crisscrossing threads. He soon discovers that his captors are tiny men about six inches high, natives of the land of Lilliput. He is released from his prone position only to be confined in a ruined temple by ninety-one tiny but unbreakable chains. In spite of his predicament, Gulliver is at first impressed by the intelligence and organizational abilities of the Lilliputians. In this section, Swift introduces us to the essential conflict of Book I: the naive, ordinary, but compassionate “Everyman” at the mercy of an army of people with “small minds”. Because they are technologically adept, Gulliver does not yet see how small-minded the Lilliputians are.
In Chapter II, the Emperor of Lilliput arrives to take a look at the “giant”, and Gulliver is equally impressed by the Emperor and his courtiers. They are handsome and richly dressed, and the Emperor attempts to speak to Gulliver civilly (although they are unable to understand one another). The Emperor decrees that every morning Gulliver is to be delivered “six beeves, forty sheep, and other victuals,” along with as much bread and wine as he needs, his basic needs are to be attended to, and six scholars are to teach Gulliver the language of his new compatriots.
Again, in this chapter, Gulliver is won over by the fact that the Lilliputians are well-dressed and articulate (despite the fact that they speak a language he cannot understand). He is still held captive by these people, both metaphorically, as in being entranced by them, and literally. It is in this chapter that Gulliver first asks to be freed and is refused.
As Chapter III opens, Gulliver and his captors have become great friends. Much in the style of a travelogue, Gulliver describes for the reader some of the unusual forms of entertainment practiced by the Lilliputians. For instance, anyone desiring a high position at court is required to jump up and down on a tightrope stretched six inches above the floor (and remember, Lilliputians are only six inches high). Only those who are able to do it win the office, and anyone wishing to remain in office may be asked to do it again. If he fails, he?s out the door, and a successful rope-dancer takes his place. Gulliver remarks that it would seem that noble birth or a fine educational background would seem to be better predictors of one?s ability to govern than dancing on a rope, but the Lilliputians find no sense in that. A similar “trial” requires office-seekers to jump over or crawl under a stick, sort of a combination vault and limbo exercise. The Emperor, who holds the stick, raises or lowers the stick suddenly and without warning, so the performer is obliged to change tactics midstream. Winners receive a snippet of colored thread, which they wear on their clothing with great pride. Gulliver delights the Emperor by inventing some new forms of entertainment, also; one involves making the Calvary perform military maneuvers on the drum-taut surface of his handkerchief, stretched above the ground, but when a rider is thrown, Gulliver stops the game. At the end of this chapter, Gulliver is freed after agreeing to nine silly conditions.
Chapter III is where it really gets interesting. Look at the types of entertainment the Lilliputians engage in, and why they do so. Swift makes a point of telling us that the only people who perform the rope dance are people seeking to acquire or maintain a high position at court, so this is actually not a form of “entertainment” at all; it?s a form of political selection. And, Swift implies, it makes as much sense as the way many political appointments in his day were made which is to say it makes no sense at all. The exercise in which the Emperor raises and lowers the stick for performers to jump over or crawl under is actually not a test of jumping or crawling; it?s a test of one?s ability to adapt to rapidly changing conditions brought about by a monarch?s whim and the prize is nothing more than a snippet of thread. And, most importantly, note that Gulliver stopped his game when someone got hurt. The Emperor?s exercises go on until somebody loses.
The first thing Gulliver does in Chapter IV is visit the capital city, Mildendo. Again, he is tremendously impressed by the Lilliputian?s technological and organizational skill, as evidenced by the beauty of their city. Now that he is an “insider”, Gulliver is told of the political problems besetting the country, both from the inside and from the outside. The domestic problem is an intense feud between people who wear low heels (such as the Emperor) and people who wear high heels, whom the Emperor would like to see out of power. Unfortunately, however, the Emperor?s son has a fancy for high heels himself, but his fear of his father causes him to wear a low-heeled shoe on one foot and a high-heeled shoe on the other; this is why he limps. Lilliput is also under threat of invasion from a neighboring country, Blefuscu; the nature of their aggression seems to be religious. Apparently the current Emperor?s grandfather initiated a new religion which demanded that believers break their eggs on the smaller end. Many Lilliputians refused to do so, as since time immemorial their creed had been to break their eggs on the larger end, and they insisted on their right to do so. This caused them to emigrate to Blefuscu, and now that country, bolstered by its new angry citizens, is planning an invasion against Lilliput.
Obviously Swift is saying that the argument between the Low-Heels and the High-Heels is ridiculous almost as silly as the jihad between the Big-Enders and the Little-Enders. During Swift?s lifetime, an equally high level of animosity existed between the various English sects which considered themselves Protestant, and between the English Protestants collectively and the Catholics on the Continent. Swift, an Anglican clergyman himself, is clearly showing how ridiculous such dissention is among people who all profess to be followers of the same path.
And pity the poor Emperor?s son, who has to hobble along the middle of the road in pain. Like any good satire, “Gulliver?s Travels” cannot be read purely as an analogy, as some scholars have tried to do. You cannot say that the Emperor “is” George I, or Filimap “is” Robert Walpole. The Emperor is the Emperor and Filimap is himself. But by making the political and religious situations of the eighteenth century seem even more ridiculous than they already were, Swift he was able to make people view their actual life choices more rationally.
Did Swift’s literary works represent the time in which he lived? I believe one should not judge that until they fully understand Swift. In my paper I made references towards Swift’s views of himself, this may have seemed irrelevant at the time but it has a great importance in comparison to the times in which he lived. In every authors works there is some trace of the world that surrounds them. It is the world around them that shaped that person, and thus shaped their subject matter and refined their writing style.
Jonathan Swift’s works were not only filled with his beliefs and feelings about himself; they also contained a number of political or religious references. All his works, even if in a small way, incorporate current events of the time. He not only wrote political essays for the Tory party, he incorporated the Tory beliefs in some of his stories (A Tale of a Tub). This fact among the one previously stated should be more than enough to substantiate the truth that his works did reflect the times in which he lived.
1 Read, Charles A. Jonathan Swift (1667-1745). Dublin, 1880. genealogy.org/~ajmorris/ireland/swift.htm.
2. Lee, Jaffe. Biography. Last updated February 8, 1999. www.jaffebros.com/lee/gulliver/sources/biography.html.
3. Hartpole, William E. Biographical Introduction. Last Updated February 20, 1998 www.wsu.edu/~brians/hum_303/enlightenment.html..