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My first example of satire is in Lilliput when Gulliver was invited to a entertainment feast. But when Gulliver arrives at the feast, he gradually discovers that its not only an entertainment feast, but it is an job applicants who will dance on the tight rope. Who ever dance the highest on the tight rope will get a very good job. This is absurd because to get a good pay job, you need to have qualifications, familiarity and the experience to do the job.
I know of all this, because in page 32 it says ‘when a great office is vacant by either dead or disgrace, 5 or 6 candidates petition the emperor to entertain his majesty and the court with a dance on the rope, and whoever jumps the highest without falling succeeds in the office’. This is not fair, because you need to be educated, not be a good dancer. So Jonathan Swift is translating it based to London, he is trying to put out that you don’t need merit to get a well-paid job; you could get it for daft reasons.
Like if you had friends in power, through favouritism, so getting a job wasn’t based on merit, it was based on silly, childish ways. In fact people at the time (18th century) were incompetent people and didn’t know how to their jobs, especially in politics. Jobs were allocated on the ground of tradition and family. Luckily and rightfully civil exams came in, and it was a big change, but at the time Swift wrote this book, there was nothing stopping a mental man getting a well-paid job. The issue that Swift is satirising is the ineptitude of a ruling class who value dancing more greatly than education.
He is also attacking the class structure of Britain. Swift suggests the solution would be to create a society were people rose on merit. To modern readers the satire may seem rather indirect. We might feel that he is not confronting the issue. However we should remember that there was a very strong royalist feeling and class prejudice at the time Swift wrote. There was also active censorship. In order to get his message across at all, Swift had to be tortuous. He had to make his meaning a little indistinguishable.
This satire is as effective as it could be if we consider the time Swift wrote. At first the story honestly struck me as rather silly like a child’s fairytale. However I quickly started thinking about the message. That it is still very important today. If we consider how money buys education in Britain we might think that it is still wealthy people who dance prettily. Who get to the top. Swift’s satire was of great magnitude in the 18th century. That is why he has to make his meaning a little unclear. Yet what he said is still important today.
My second example of satire was when Gulliver was invited to an entertainment feast yet again. However Gulliver arrives at the feast, he realises that it is a reward scheme, for the emperor to give rewards to people ( blue, red, green). To get rewards you had to jump over a stick, which the emperor held out for you. This is absolute madness, a reward should be given out who worked hard and deserved it, not jump over a wooden stick. I know of this case it quotes ‘the emperor lays on the table three fine silken threads of six inches long. One is blue, the other red and the third green’.
To receive this it says ‘the emperor holds a stick in his hands, both ends parallel to the horizon, while the candidates, advancing one by one, sometime leap over the stick, sometimes creep under it backwards and forward several times, according as the stick is advanced or depressed’. Swift is satirising that people in Britain got their jobs by ‘creeping’. This satire is aimed at the king’s court. The first satire concerned jobs. This one concerns influential positions at court- ‘ and you see a few great persons about this court who are not adorned with one of these girdles’.
In the 18th century many people like Swift felt that the king’s court was too important and too corrupt. They felt that people rose through the court on how well they crept to the king. The positions at court were also very important. Many of the people who governed the country and who ran the army and the navy were appointed by the king. Swift and others felt that such important positions should be given out according to merit. They also felt that the government of the country should come from elected MP’s rather than ‘creeps’ at the king’s court. The satire works in many ways.
One way is the gap between the ridiculous things being described and the very formal and technical language that Swift uses to describe them. ‘The candidates are to undergo a trial of dexterity very different from the former’. The use of formal words like ‘a trial of dexterity’ is amusing when it is applied to something so stupid. This gap between ridiculous action and a very high tone is something that humorous and satirical writers use a lot. Another similar technique, which I find very effective, is the way Swift includes lots of detail about actions that are meaningless.
One example would be the detail, ‘the emperor lays on the table three fine silken threads of six inches long. One is blue, the other red and the third green’. Readers are used to hearing this kind of technical detail applied to serious things like engineering, so they find it amusing when these phrases are used to describe madness. The best satirists such as Swift have the imagination to came up with crazy situations and they have the control if language and tone to put this into kind if language people would expect to hear speaking about serious things.
The solution that Swift seems to suggest is that the King should not be in charge of appointing people to important positions. He also suggests that in England the Prime Minister is to close to the king and is also corrupt. It is noticeable the emperor and the ‘first minister’ share the holding of the stick. Swift suggests that Prime Minister should be separate from the king and that important jobs should be given out elected people in parliament.