A Book Of Double Meanings Essay, Research Paper
A Book of Double Meanings How many books has a person read in which two different stories could beinterrupted from it? One such book is Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathon Swift. This bookhas been read by many children as an adventure story and by most adults as a devastatingsatire of society. In the book, Gulliver’s Travels, Swift criticizes the corruption of theEnglish government, society, science, religion, and man in general. First, Gulliver travels to Lilliput, whose inhabitants are under the constant criticismof Swift. Swift uses the events within Lilliput to make severe criticisms of Englandbetween the reigns of Queen Anne and George the first. The people of Lilliput are aboutsix inches tall. Their size signifies that their motives, acts, and humanity are in the same,dwarfish. In this section, the royal palace is accidentally set on fire, containing theempress inside. Gulliver, instead of making his way across town to the ocean, squashingthe people of Lilliput as he goes, he makes use of his urine to save the palace. While thisvulgar episode was a display of bravery, it infuriated the emperor, causing revenge to bevowed on Gulliver. Rather than being happy that both the empress and the palace are notin ruin, the littleness of the government and the people in general is displayed in this act. Another display of the littleness is the fact that Gulliver is used as the Emperor’s absoluteweapon, but the emperor only uses him to conquer his world of two islands. This makesthe emperor’s ambition seem extremely low. Swift also criticizes the religious beliefs ofthe Lilliputians and England in the first story. In Lilliput, Ministers were chosen strictly onagility, or their ability to walk a tightrope or stick jumping. They were able to maintaintheir rank of minister as long as they could keep defeating these tasks. The politicalparties of the English government are represented by the conservative High Heels, whodepict the Tories, and the progressive Low Heels, or Whigs. As indicated by their names,the distinguishing mark of the parties is the height of their heels. Within these two parties,Swift criticizes the English political parties, and the Prince of Wales. Swift also mocks thereligion war that was going on in England, through the use of the war between Lilliput,and its nearest neighbor, Blefuscu. Swift uses the terms High Heels and Low Heels tocompare the meaningless battles of the Whigs and Tories, such as the height of heels. Gulliver s first travel to Lilliput draws much mockery from the auther, Swift. Gulliver s next travels find him in Brobdingnag and Laputa, in which Swiftsatarizes both the moral and physical corruption of man. His voyage to Brobdingnagshows us the filthy mental and physical characteristics of man. Here, Gulliver is confrontedwith the Maids of Honour. The repulsive actions of revealing their private parts toGulliver, reminds him of how the Lilliputians found his skin full of crater like pores, andstumps of hair growing from them. The odor of the immense creatures is offending, and itcaused Gulliver to recall the fact that the Lilliputians were also offended of his body odor. Gulliver’s first owner in Brobdingnag represents the selfishness of man. Gulliver isconstantly displayed in public and abused for the profit of the owner. When his ownerfinds out that Gulliver is weakening, he sells him immediately, at a high price in order tomilk every last penny out of Gulliver. In the floating island of Laputa, Gulliver isconfronted with the old age Struldbuggs, which look utterly hideous resulting from oldage and the deterioration of their bodies. In this voyage Swift criticizes the Royal Societyof England, in which he says is composed of useless philosophers, inventors, and
scientists. The floating island signifies that the inhabitants are composed of the same airyconstitution as the environment. Projects done by such people are summed up by “theUniversal Artist,” who directs his followers to turn useful things into the exact opposite,which results in useless achievements. Some of the experiments held were: to createtangible air, wool-less sheep, and horses with stone hooves. The flying island itselfexpresses not only the desertion on the common earth of reality, but their conversion ofthe universe to a mechanism of living to a mechanical process. Brobdingnag and Laputaprove to be the recipient of many of Swift s satarizing comments. Finally, Gulliver travels to the land of the Houyhnhnms, where Swift uses the mostof his sarcastic mockery. After he reaches land, Gulliver comes across a pack of Yahoosand is instantly appalled by them. The Yahoos from the land of the Houyhnhnms arefilthy, uncivilized creatures, who use their own dung as a weapon. After his firstencounter with the Yahoos he quotes, “Upon the whole, I never beheld in all my travels sodisagreeable and animal, or one against which I naturally conceived so strong anantipathy” (Swift, Text 215). This statement is at best ironic, because Gulliver never sawthe resemblances between the Yahoos, and himself. In these descriptions, Swift criticizesboth the moral and physical corruption of man Afterwards, he encounters the rationalHouyhnhnms and he immediately realizes the common characteristics he has in commonwith the Yahoos. He states, “my horror and astonishment are not to be described, when Iobserved, in this abdominal animal, a perfect human figure” (Swift, Text 220). Gulliver isamazed to see rational figures acting in such brutal figures, but he later realizes that theyregarded him as the brutal beast. The Houyhnhnms compare Gulliver and the Yahoos andfind many similarities between the two. The only difference was that Gulliver andmankind, had learned the benefits of clothing, and he, at times could be a rational creature. Swift portrays the Yahoos as savage animals with human characteristics, which is thebiggest mockery of mankind in the whole book. The Yahoos were so greedy, that theywould fight over enough food to feed an entire army of fifty soldiers, just to keep it tothemselves. They would poison their own bodies, by sucking a root, similar to alcohol, toreach a feeling of highness. The female population of the Yahoos are also givencharacteristics of the ladies of the royal stature. Their gestures of hiding behind bushesand trees, looking at the passing by males, gives the impression of a woman hiding herface behind a fan, while looking flirtatiously over her shoulder. The smell associated withthe female Yahoos, is similar to the perfume ladies wear to attract men. By the timeGulliver is returned to England, he becomes a complete antisocial, who is disgusted by thesight of his own wife and children. Gulliver’s desire to become a Houyhnhnm gives thereader the impression that he is a pathetic man, who strives to become someone he cannever be. The land of the Houyhnhnms is indeed the most satarized place in Swift s wholebook. Through Gulliver, Jonathan Swift travels to four different foreign countries, eachrepresenting a corrupt part of England. Gulliver, being gullible himself, believeseverything he is told, which symbolizes the irony of the English system. Not only doesSwift criticize the customs of each country, but he mocks the naive man who has theinability to figure out the double meaning of things. On Gulliver s first voyage, Swiftcriticizes the inhabitants of Lilliput. Brobdingnag and Laputa are the root of Swift s nextstring of mockery. Swift ends his book with the brutalist of his sarcasm in Gulliver s lastvoyage to the land of the Houyhnhnms. Swift criticizes the corruption of these fourcountries, and focuses on the government, society, science, religion, and man.