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Gulliver’s Travels Essay

Swift wrote ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ to be read by the literate higher classes of the British society, he did this because he hoped that the higher class people would have the higher ranked jobs in the government and could change Britain. In chapter 6 Gulliver gave a long detailed, description of Britain’s History and the way in which it had been ruled in Swift’s time, the king was ‘perfectly astonished with the historical account’ Gulliver gave him.

The king tried to protest that the affairs of Britain during the last century were ‘only a heap of conspiracies, rebellions, murders, massacres, banishments, faction, cruelty, rage, madness, hatred or ambition could produce. ‘ All of these are negative points about England which clearly shows Swift’s dislike of the country. Swift uses the King’s response to make his point even clearer; this allows Swift to show his disgust of British society without stating that he himself said it; this offended many people.

Another aspect of British society which Swift was very interested in was the physical human body and its functions. The public in the 18th century found the human body embarrassing, including things such as sanitation, which is perhaps why swift satirised it to show his unusual, for his time, interest in such things. Swift however was disgusted by bodily functions and he showed his disgust by using the differences for Gulliver in Lilliput and Brobdingnag.

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In Lilliput, where Gulliver was the large person, the empress was disgusted when she looked up at Gulliver walking over her but in Brobdingnag Gulliver was in horror with the maids breastfeeding the child, ‘I must confess no ever object ever disgusted me so much as the sight of her monstrous breast’ and ‘It stood six feet, and could not be less than sixteen in circumference. The nipple was about the half the bigness of my head. ‘ These are both examples of Swift’s hatred for human body parts because both of the descriptions for them are all negative.

A second example of Swift’s interest in bodily functions is in Lilliput when Gulliver urinates on the Empress’ palace to save her from the fire, the ironic thing about this is that although Gulliver saved the Empress’ life from the fire he was later banished from the country for displaying such an act in front of the Empress. This is perhaps another satirical point from Swift mocking the English culture, maybe Swift feels like it’s unfair that even if you do something heroic, such as saving a royal family member, you can be convicted because of the method you used.

Swift also satirises women and how vain they were, such as Chapter 5 in Brobdingnag ‘They would often strip me naked and lay me at full length in their bosoms; wherewith I was much disgusted; because, to say the truth, a very offensive smell came from their skins’ This is an example of Swift suggesting that women of his time were an illusion of physical beauty and that they weren’t as beautiful as was thought. Swift suggests that people often smelt hence why they used perfumes to cover the smell.

Swift later states ‘I found their natural smell was much more supportable than when they used perfumes’, Swift was disgusted with how vain women were by using perfumes to try to impress the males, He could also be satirising how men wanted women to act like this. 18th century England was very different compared with modern day fashions, in the 18th century women tended to cover skin more compared to now where the fashion is to show as much skin as possible.

So when Swift wrote in chapter 5 about the maids ‘stripping to the skin’ while Gulliver was in their presence, this would have been a preposterous thought for people of the 18th century even more than it would be now. Swift loved to satirise this because it was something that fascinated, it also makes us laugh in a childish way and would therefore keep us reading. From reading “Gulliver’s Travels” it is clear that Swift had a very strong dislike of the culture and government of Britain and showed his disgust by satirising them using literature.

Satire is a rude way of getting your point across often ridiculing something and will offend many people. When Swift wrote ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ he said ‘he wanted to vex the world and intended to make people angry by holding a mirror up to English society’. Swift wrote ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ as a satirical book but wasn’t sure how the British public would take it, so he first published it under the name Lemuel Gulliver, which makes it sound even more like a travelogue.

Swift using Lilliput and Brobdingnag ridiculed Britain and offended the majority of the population, so when the public found out that Swift was the author of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, he felt he could no longer work in Britain, so he left the country and went to live in Ireland.

Bibliography – ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ by Jonathan Swift Word Count: 2,247 Ben Dewsnip 19th May 08 10co Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Jonathan Swift section.

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