Governmental Flaw ( Gullivers Travels) Essay, Research Paper
GOVERNMENT S FLAW
The government is one of the most highly criticized things in the world. From feudalism to democratic governments, there is always something to make fun of or talk about from how fat the president is to how unfair the government taxes the people. Jonathan Swift takes the flaws of politics, from his era, and magnifies them into governmental insults as well as an eye opener to the common man. Thus, Gulliver’s Travels breaks up the flaws of the English government to form the governments of the Liliput, Brobdinag, and the Houhynms.
Liliput tries to show itself as a well-cultured society but, the narrow-minded people show themselves to be militaristic totalitarians. As Gulliver studies the Liliputians he learns that they are well-schooled in math as well as engineering. Their government contains an odd amendment stating that everyone must break their eggs on the little end. As in every society there are people who try to redefine the rule such as the Big-enders, who move to another island to practice what they believe. The Liliputians, like England of the time, feels that their way is the best and that they must have total control to keep harmony. This is paralleled with England’s efforts to keep Ireland and Scotland under their control by militaristic action. As the Liliputians try to force Gulliver into destroying the Big-enders, he protests to the Emperor I will never be an instrument of bringing a free and brave people into slavery (64). Swift shines through Gullivers actions saying that no one should be forced to do anything that they feel is not right. Liliput’s greed for dominance is one part of England’s flaws that Swift tries to exploit.
The feudal government is based on an exchange of tribute for protection. Brobdingnag’s government is a form of feudalism except it tries to become a utopian society running without dispute. In the movie, Gulliver learns that there is no form of taxation, governmental brutality, or violence. This sounds strange to him because the society he comes from excepts all of those. This says a lot about how chaotic Swift s society is since things that are moral are not correct and are played off to be the correct path society is supposed to take. For such a superior government, the Brobdinagians appear to be smarter and have more insight into the English when the Queen states after she is told of the lifestyle of the English, ” It doth not appear from all you have said, how any one virtue, that priests are advanced for their piety or learning, soldiers for their conduct and valour, judges for their integrity, senators for the love of their country , or counselors for their wisdom (147). The King in the book further goes on to say, I have gathered from your own relation, and the answer I have with much pains wringed and extorted from you. I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth. (148). In plain English what he means is that from what he has learned from Gulliver he doesn t see how they do not elect priests for their knowledge, or soldiers for their conduct. Also, he makes the assumption that Gulliver s own kind is the most harmful race of rat-like creatures that ever set foot on God s green earth.
The Houhynms represent the society that swift wants to strive for but, as the way the world is, it will never happen. As he observes the Houhynms and Yahoos he see mankind as they really are, an unclean pack of savages that rely purely on instinct instead of reason. Further more, Swift makes an insight into the human race in general when he said that the Yahoos where savages roaming around fighting each other for no apparent reason. Swift is referring to how we can start wars and random acts of violence over petty things such as a group of people’s beliefs or over who should control land. The Houyhnms however, are to Gulliver the perfect government of no central power, have the perfect lifestyle of pure freedom, and are the most sensible beings in the world. To illustrate the attitude of the Houyhnms, Gulliver explains the concept of lying to the Houyhnms. They respond to him by saying that the concept of speech is to gain knowledge from what the speaker is saying and lying totally destroys the purpose of speech. In conclusion, Swift feels that to achieve a peaceful and harmonious world we must give up government, stop lying to others and ourselves and start trusting our reason instead of instinct.
In essence, Swift saw the English government as a Totalitarian Government and a feudal system. In the movie as Gulliver tells his story on how he explains their government to these other races, the examiners sees him as insulting England. This brings up an excellent question, why would the examiners find the stories told about England insulting even though they are the truth? The answer is that subconsciously, they know that what Gulliver says is true and they are realizing it. It appears that Swift is in favor of a government that has no ruling parties and does it have a main structure. This is because Gulliver praises all the custom, rituals, and ideas of the culture. In closing the ambiance of the book is Swift s feeling of the English government, which is a shot against a totalitarian, militaristic, power-hungry country.