Gulliver\'s Travels

February 27, 1996

As a seemingly wise and educated man, throughout the novel Gulliver\'s
Tarvels, the narrator cleverly gains the reader\'s respect as a thinking and
observant individual. With this position in mind, the comments and ideas that
Gulliver inflicts upon those reading about his journeys certainly have their own
identity as they coincide with his beliefs and statements on the state of
humanity and civilization in particular. Everywhere Gulliver goes, he seems to
comment on the good and bad points of the people he encounters. Sometimes, he
finds a civilization that he can find virtues within, but he also encounters
peoples and places which truly diusgust him in their manner of operation and
civility. Overall, Swift gives Gulliver a generally negative and cynical
attitude towards the manner in which his current day English counterparts
behaved cleverly disguised in the subtext of his encounters with other nations
that either contrasted the way they lived, or mirrored unflatteringly his
contemporaries lifestyles.
In Gulliver\'s first voyage to Lilliput, his role as the town giant not
only put into perspective the selfishness and unrelenting need for power of the
human race, but also opened his eyes to the untrusting and ungrateful nature of
those aforementioned. When he first arrived in their land, the Lilliputians
opted to tie him up, giving him no freedom, which he luckily did not object to.
Then, once they had developed a somewhat symbiotic realationship with him,
Gulliver was basically forced to abide to their whims and fancies, and
ultimately to be their tool in war. At any time, Gulliver could have escaped
their grasp, but instead, he opted to stay and observe and oblige to their
customs. He was a very agreeable guest. He did tricks for them, he saved their
princess from her burning castle, he defeated their mortal enemies, and all he
was rewarded with was their spite and mistrust. From the start, no matter how
cordial and well-behaved he was, there was little trust bestopwed upon him by
the people that bound him to their home. Also, Gulliver explains the
rediculous manner in which one becomes accredited in their society. "For as to
that infamous practice of acquiring great Employment by dancing on the Ropes, or
Badges of Favor and Distinction by leaping over sticks, and creeping under them;
the reader is to observe, that they were first introduced by the Grand father or
the Emperor now reigning; and grew to the present Height, by the gradual
increase of Party and Faction." This rediculous means of self-validation seems
strickingly similar to some of the methods with which people will resort to in
our societies, where personal achievment and values are secondary to their
outward appearance, ability to impress, and skills totally unnessesary to the
job described. Gulliver\'s description of their government, way of life, and
logic patterns reflected either his grievances with or his innability to
comprehend the manner in which many decisions, traditions, and wyas of living
developed in our own society. He also, though, pointed out some redeeming
values which he found in their way of living such as their innability to accept
fraud, and their total separation of purity of smut, through reward and
punishment. When it came down to it though, the Lilliputian\'s lack of trust
towards their giant helper ruined their chances of him staying, and Gulliver was
forced to leave. He found their hospiatlity to be great, but only at a severe
stress to their own resources. At this point, some very strong assertions have
been made about humanity, but we must go farther into the story to draw any real
Although there wasn\'t much said in this section of the book, the second
voyage to Brobdignag put Gulliver in a very compromising situation which made
him simply the pawn of social commentary by Swift. The people of Brobdignag
treated Gulliver in an almost rediculous manner. They put him in a cage like we
do with rodents, and were truly simple in their ideas. "The Learning of this
People is very defective; consiting only in Morality, History, Poetry, and
Mathematicks; wherin they must be allowed to excel. But, the last of these is
wholly applied to what may be useful in Life; to the Improvement of Agriculture
and all Mechanical arts; so that among us it would be little esteemed. And as to
ideas, Entitites, Abstractions ands Transcendentals, I could never drive the
least Conception into their heads." This situation made Gulliver see a people
totally preoccupied with their own ideas, and showed their ignorance of possibly
better ideas simply becvause they refused to acknowledge the possible validity