Jonathan Swift`S “Gulliver’s Travels” Essay, Research Paper
Jonathan Swift shows a woman’s place in society is without reason, but Mary Wollenstoncraft illuminates the fact that women have been shaped by a society in which they have no voice. In Jonathan Swifts, “Gulliver’s Travels”, he shows that women are uneducated, extravagant, melodramatic and untrusting in there own sex. Swift illustrates his ideas about women through the story he tells Master about his own country, and indirectly though his observations of the Yahoo females. Swift shows that women are of a lesser class. He implants the idea that women are without intelligence. Mary Wollenstoncraft states in chapter 13 of her book, “The Vindication’s of the Rights of Woman”, the reasons for Swifts assumptions. She depicts women as being oppressed by men. Wollenstoncraft credits men for giving structure to society, making it the image of man, thus leading to the misdirection of women in society. Swift details the true reality of a woman’s place in society, while Wollenstoncraft’s “vindication” expresses why.
Women lack the education that it takes to compete in a society of educated males, thus making them an easy target for manipulation. Swift states, ” There are three methods by which a man may rise to be chief minister the first is by knowing how with prudence to dispose of a wife, a daughter or a sister?” (456). His thoughts show that women have no real value in society, and can be easily exploited by men. Wollenstoncraft believes the reason women are so easily manipulated is because the lack of education, ” In fact the female mind has been so totally neglected?”(332). She thinks the reason women are not willing to educated themselves are because of the male figures in their lives. A prime example is the father; he pushes whimsical novels into the hands of this daughter instead of books containing actual knowledge. Women, who are not educated, allow men to dominate, and control society.
Women tend to indulge in extravagant items, while never being thoroughly satisfied. Swift states,”?that this whole globe of earth must be at least three times gone round, before one of our better female Yahoo’s could get her breakfast, or a cup to put it in”(454). His words suggest that women are hard to please and not easily satisfied. He goes on to describe women as vane, as if to hint that they have nothing better to do than indulge in material wants. Wollenstoncraft gives reason to why women appear to be vane. She says, ” Yet weak are the women who imagine that they can long please without the aid of mind?When the mind is not sufficiently opened to take pleasure in reflection, the body will be adorned with sedulous care?”(333-334). She feels that women fill the void of education with self-image. In order to take part in a world of educated men, women must grace themselves with material possession to feel like they are apart of society. Thus giving them an image of being vane, but in reality they are compensating themselves for a lack of education.
Swift embodies women, as being melodramatic drama queens. He describes fictional diseases, in which women are infested with; he also describes the fictional cure (455). Leaving one to believe that it is easy to elude women; just play along with their imagination and they will get better. This is a form of oppression against women. Once again Swift shows the power that men have over women. Wollenstoncraft contributes women’s melodramatic performances to emotions. She states,” Women are suppose to posses more sensibility, and even humanity, than men, and their strong attachments and instantaneous emotions?are given as proof”(336). The reason that women sometimes let their imaginations take over is because of their emotions. A woman’s emotions can create fictional illnesses, which a man can not understand. Men can not be as open with their emotions as women can, therefore they can not sympathize or even comprehend what a woman feels. They make vast assumptions and look for quick cures, even if those cures compromise the intelligence of women.
Women have no trust in their own sex. Swift’s observation of the Yahoo women, suggest that women talk about each other, “?if a female stranger came among them, three or four of her own sex would get about her, and stare and chatter, and grin, and smell all over; and then turn off with jesters that seemed to express contempt and disdain”(462). He illustrates how women will intimidate other women when they feel threatened. Wollenstoncraft agrees with Swift, but she feels women are all “rivals”(334 Wollenstoncraft). This is not their fault. The woman’s goal is to prove to the man that she will be a good wife. Wollenstoncraft states, “They are all running the same race, and would rise above the virtues of mortals, if they did not view each other with a suspicious and even envious eye”(335). This indicates that women are in competition with other women for the sake of men. Women do not turn women against one another; men turn women against one another. Men tend to make women insecure. They use women as pons, playing them against their own sex.
Jonathan Swift shows how women behave in society, while Mary Wollenstoncraft gives reason for their behavior. Women are virtually products of men. Males dominate and control society. They dictate the behaviors of women, starting with their education. Women are forced to compete against each other for the attention of men, thus turning them against their own sex. A man’s voice screams through society, while the woman’s remains mute.