’s Travels Essay, Research Paper
Satire in Lilliput
In Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Swift uses satire to tell a tale of Lemuel Gulliver going on voyages in strange lands and meeting a variety of different characters. Jonathan Swift’s was one of the greatest satirists of his and our time. In the first book of Gulliver’s Travels millions of young schoolchildren have grown to love this famous story and never recognize the satire hidden in the story. In his first Book he uses satire to demonstrate English politics by using the citizens of Lilliput.
Gulliver’s first adventure takes place in Lilliput. Gulliver gets shipwrecked and finds himself tied down by a considerable number of little people called Lilliputians. The Lilliputians stood only six inches high. During this time Swift recognized that England was also small in stature but was dominant force and had a great influence in Europe. England, despite its small size, had the potential to defeat any nation that might try to conquer them. Swift relates this situation with the Lilliputians. They only stood six inches tall but had the power to take on the, “Man-Mountain”, Gulliver. The ability of the Lilliputians to capture someone ten times their size can be seen as reinforcing their strength as a small nation, such as England. Thus becoming and remaining a great and powerful country.
Swift’s personal life surfaced when Queen Anne represented the Lilliputian Empress. She was responsible for blocking Swift’s advancement in the Church of England because she was offended by his writing. Swift in Gulliver Travels had Gulliver urinate on the Empress’ room when it caught on fire. Gulliver’s urination on the palace offended the Lilliputians and thought that they where insignificant. Even though Gulliver’s urination intends to prevent a disaster, it also gives Gulliver the ability to control the Lilliputians in any way he likes. Swift uses this sequence of problems to show a personal issue in his life. Swift’s urination scene parody’s his own life giving him a satire within a satire. By pointing this out in the story, he mocks his critics.
Swift further illustrates satire by comparing English government to Lilliput. In the early eighteenth century, the English government was under the Whig’s political party. Swift represented himself as Gulliver as being a Tory, and the Lilliputians as being power-hungry Whigs. Their heels of their shoes identified these parties. In Lilliput the High-Heels represented the Tories and the Low-Heels represented the Whigs. George I favored the Whigs, so the Lilliputian emperor favored the Low-Heals. But the Prince of Whales favored both parties, and thus the Lilliputian heir to the throne wore one High-Heel and one Low. When Gulliver started learning about the Lilliputians government he noticed that their government officials were chosen by rope dancing. To Gulliver and the reader these practices seem ridiculous and idiotic, but to the Lilliputians they see these practices as normal. Swift uses this scene to satire the British government at this time. The British government also elected their ministers in a same foolish manner.
Throughout the first book in Gulliver’s Travels, Swift uses satire to demonstrate British politics by using the Lilliputians as a tool to mock and at the same time educate England and its politics. Through Gulliver’s eyes, Swift demonstrates the way British people lived in the eighteenth century. From each experience we grasp a stronger understanding of the faults of their government and people who ran them. But most importantly, Swift teaches us through satire to take a good look at ourselves, not only our government and to recognize its faults and try to improve on them.