Gulliver’s Travels is the novel that became extremely fashionable as soon as it was issued (John Gay said in a 1726 letter to Swift that “it is universally read, from the cabinet council to the nursery”), and it is probable that it has never been out of print since then.
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Gulliver’s Travels is a journey that brings a person face to face with the yahoo (as Swift called him) representation of a human. Its atmosphere is an allegorical lampoon on human nature. Swift’s satire seems to have approximately a spiritual intention.
His satiric viewpoint of an illogical world, a vision that befalls his introduction to an act of faith. Swift has generated a whole world of smooth, stylish, venerable people, performing the gesticulations of a coherent community, except for one unimportant disparity; there is an annulled at the middle of things. Men have become things, suits of clothes, and inside, all is empty, no soul, no heart, and no mind. Sartoris is the picture of charade – a civilization of mountebanks, a marionette show world with a fat face imagining that it is balanced and arranged. Swift’s spoofs show the lunacy of man’s motive. His spoof arises from the painful consciousness of a human being. It is a thumping Juvenilia send-up.
To summarize, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is an adroit accumulation of both types of satires. Swift s occasionally criticized as a Misanthrope.
Gulliver’s fourth voyage has long been a stumbling block. Early on critics were very much distressed by the tone of this journey. They reprimanded Swift as ‘confirmed Misanthrope’. Thackeray’s outburst is worth declaring in this context; ‘It is language, a monster babbling screams and gnashing imprecations against mankind. Tearing down all slices of diffidence, past all sense of shame; dirty in word, muddy in thought, fuming, teasing, obscene.
But apart from all this censure, it’s a truth generally admitted by all critics, that ‘Gulliver’s Travels is one of the world’s great spoofs and probably the most severe one. Voyage four is its peak, plain-spoken, terrible, and offensive in the extreme to our positive view of man’s nature and accomplishment. The chief end of Swift’s labors is to ‘vex the world rather than divert it. Swift depicts Gulliver his representative, to depict the stupidity, stolidity, and deficiency of mankind.
In the first journey, the land of Lilliputian symbolizes the awkwardness of spiritual and political conflicts. The Big-Indians and the Little-Indians in Lilliputian stand for two major separations of Christianity. Rope-dancing here symbolizes Sir Robert Walpole’s skill at the parliamentary plan and supporting conspiracy. The divergence between High Heels and Low-Heels symbolizes the conflict between the two political parties. To characterize one may assert that ‘Gulliver’s Travels is Swift’s magnum opus supplemented with a wonderful and nimble gathering of both comic and sarcastic satire. Broadly, the book has three themes:
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- a satirical view of the state of European government, and of petty differences between religions.
- an inquiry into whether men are inherently corrupt or whether they become corrupted.
- a restatement of the older “ancients v. moderns” controversy previously addressed by Swift in The Battle of the Books.