Essay, Pages 3 (740 words)
Swift uses Brobdingnag to put forward his proposal for changing the British Laws, using the king of Brobdingnag he states that ‘No law of that country must exceed in words the number of letters in their alphabet’, he also says that ‘They are to be expressed in the most plain and simple terms’. This shows that Swift wanted laws to be less than 26 words long, which isn’t that long, he also wants them to straight to the point and not to ramble on about unnecessary details.
Anger about the hypocrisy and ingratitude towards the British public
Swift wanted to make his point clear in the articles thus demonstrating his anger about the hypocrisy and ingratitude towards the British public in the 18th century of the government. Swift criticises the hypocrisy of the government by demonstrating how one minute it acts professionally, such as the articles, and another minute it acts like a circus by electing the ministers who are the best at tricks.
Swift had a particular dislike of the British Government when he wrote ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and he made his views on the unfairness of the government very clear.
During Gulliver’s time with the Lilliputians, Swift demonstrates his point by using the way in which new members were elected into the Lilliputian government. Swift wrote that the ministers would have to perform tricks to show their dexterity and the ministers that were the most entertaining would be chosen by the emperor to represent the state. Swift makes this sound like the equivalent of modern day elections.
Swift felt that people in Britain got into the government by flattery, ‘sucking’ up to the prime minister.
Satirising the British elections
This is shown in Lilliput by ministers being trained from a very young age to perform such ridiculous acts to please the emperor thus getting elected into the government. Swift felt this is how it was in Britain as well and that people didn’t get elected because they were the best for the job or had the best understanding of politics but on their entertainment skills alone, “Whoever performs his part with the most agility, and holds out the longest in leaping and creeping, is rewarded with the blue-coloured silk”, Swift describes this ridiculous way of being promoted to satirise the British elections.
Swift used this example to demonstrate how he felt the Honours system worked in Britain, being elected by giving pleasure or pleasing those who have more power. Swift further satirises old traditions of the government such as the game ‘leaping and creeping’, this is were a the Lilliputian ministers try to please the emperor to get promoted, this is satirising how people get voted into the British government not on knowledge but pleasing the people above you.
Satirising the British government
It was very unlikely that Swift would ever leave satirising the British government out of any book he wrote because of his anger with British politics having failed to get elected into it himself. Swift liked to satirise flattery, he felt that this was the made key to getting into the government. To satirise this Swift uses the introduction for the emperor in Lilliput before the nine requirements in Chapter 3, ‘taller than the sons of men; pleasant as the spring, comfortable as the summer, fruitful as autumn, dreadful as winter’, is just a small segment of the whole introduction.
It is quite an amazing description as it compares the emperor to all 4 seasons, when normally people are only compared to one, for example, ‘as lovely as a summer’s day’. As you can see Swift obviously over-exaggerates this description to show his disgust for flattering and complimenting higher-ranked people than yourself purely for self gain. It is meant to be funny while having enough truth in it to be recognised as an attack on real life and the British Government.
The way in which Swift satirises the British government and laws is very clever because he never actually states that it is his view, he uses fictional characters to express his view, although eventually Swift was forced to leave England and go to Ireland feeling that he could never work in England again. For example in Lilliput Swift satirises how ridiculous the country is, which is meant to be England. Lilliput was a parody of England. However in Brobdingnag Swift satirises the politics of Britain in a different way by describing it to the king.