Sympathy For Gulliver Essay, Research Paper
In the novel, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, the main character, Gulliver, is in fact sympathetic. Gulliver is a very typical European man. He is middle-aged, well educated, and sensible. He takes four separate voyages to four fantastical societies. He can kind of be seen as a Goldilocks figure. He tries out a range of extreme societies. One too small, one too large, one too theoretical, and one too simple. He is attracted to the simplicity of the last society but is not allowed to stay. Of all the characters in the book, Gulliver is portrayed as the sympathetic character.
His first adventure, in a country called Lilliput, the reader begins to sympathize with Gulliver. Everyone is no larger than six inches tall in this country. When he first arrives there, he is tied down but is later treated somewhat kindly. He admires the Lilliputians bravery, since they climb onto his body despite his great size. He eventually learns the language of the people and is allowed his freedom. Gulliver is seen as an enormously powerful force in Lilliput, and yet he is also viewed as merely another subject of the Emperor. Gulliver allows this treatment, even though it is obvious that he could kill the Lilliputians easily. His desire to be accepted into Lilliputian society is probably a carry-over from his habits in Europe; he is used to being the subject of a monarch and to obeying orders, even when the person giving them is small enough to fit onto his palm. He is later supposed to be blinded by the Lilliputians, but escapes to Blefescu, who are the Lilliputians enemies. He has an easy time convincing both sides to let him leave to go back to his civilization. This is just the first time that Gulliver has such ill luck.
Gulliver soon finds himself in a new adventure where luck is not on his side. He becomes restless again when he gets back to England so he sets sail to Madagascar, but never makes it. He ends up in Brobdingnag. After experiencing his own greatness in size during his visit to Lilliput, he is now subjected to the Lilliputians’ situation. The people of Brobdingnag are all giants and he is the insignificant being. A farmer, who finds Gulliver in a field, takes him in. He soon finds that he is powerless against many things and has trouble defending himself from attacks by small creatures such as rats. The farmer eventually puts Gulliver on display ten times a day as a curiosity in the largest cities of Brobdingnag. The only person at this point who shows Gulliver kindness is the farmer’s daughter whom he calls Glumdalclitch. She treats him like a plaything and dresses him up in dolls’ clothes. The Queen, having heard of Gulliver, soon orders him to be brought to the castle. She is so delighted with him that she pays the farmer a thousand gold pieces to own him. He has much misfortune while in the possession of the Queen. He demonstrates his inability to protect himself and still relies on the Glumdalclitch, who is living in the castle. He is injured by monkeys, dwarves, hail, and by the court’s general mistreatment of him. His long discussion with the King about Europe and his culture left him feeling humiliated and insignificant. The King told him that “the balk of your natives are the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.” The King also wants Gulliver to propagate so his offspring can be given as pets but he is afraid of condemning his own species to a life of slavery and insignificance. Everything Gulliver does in Brobdingnag is reduced to a level of triviality. He is nothing more than a miniature plaything to the giants. Gulliver returns to his world when an eagle picks up a box he is in and drops it into the ocean where he is rescued. He is treated the worse in, by far, in Brobdingnag due to his insignificant size and inability to protect himself.
Once again Gulliver sets out, is thrown off course, and ends up in Laputa, which is much more complex than Lilliput or Brobdingnag but where he is the same size as the natives are. The government floats over the rest of the country and their nobility and scientific thinkers are only interested in their own theories and daydreams. He can not carry a normal conversation because all they think about is mathematics and music. He readily yearns for a ship so he can return to England and is finally allowed to leave because he refused employment. Gulliver ends up a few months later on a new island that is inhabited by superior horses, called Houyhnhnms, and their inferior human-like servants, called Yahoos. He is soon is disgusted with his own race because he realizes that they are very much similar to the Yahoos. He admires the horse’s simple ways and is drawn into their society and believes that his is profoundly flawed. Gulliver finds himself wanting to stay with the horses but is unfortunately not allowed to. The horses do not like the idea of a Yahoo staying with a Houyhnhnms so he is asked to leave. When he returns to Europe he ends up spending more time with horses than he does with his own family. He can not stand the idea of living with these primitive, ugly, beast-like creatures even though he is one of them. In the end, the reader can not help but sympathize with Gulliver over all the turmoil he has been through.
Gulliver is portrayed as the sympathetic character in the novel Gulliver’s Travels. Swift uses each society to criticize the European ways of life and make the reader feel even more sorry for Gulliver. By the end of his last adventure the reader understands and sympathizes with Gulliver’s actions. The reader should also understand why he wants to stay with the horses and not want to return to his home in England. He went through so much in all of his journeys. In the first three societies he is not accepted but when he finally finds one where he is happy in, he is not allowed to stay. All Gulliver wants is to be happy where he lives and because of his experiences he will never be.