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Jonathan Swift 1667-1745. Jonathan Swift. Jonathan Swift. Lemuel Gullivers four voyages can be seen as a satirical exploration of the human condition: What does it mean to be a human being? The name Gulliver may suggest that he is gullible. Travel Narrative. Lilliput. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Historicizing Modernity

Jonathan Swift1667-1745

1Jonathan Swift

Swift was born in Ireland in 1667He received a BA from Trinity College, Dublin in 1686He received an MA from Oxford in 1692He became an Anglican priest in 1695He was granted a Dr. of Divinity degree from Trinity in 1702He was active in the early debates of the political parties in EnglandWhigs and ToriesSwift is famous for his satires:A Modest Proposal (1729) Gullivers Travels (1726)

2Jonathan Swift

Gullivers Travels 3. LaputaFour books/voyages: 2. Brobdingnag

1. Lilliput

4. Houyhnhnms

3Lemuel Gullivers four voyages can be seen as a satirical exploration of the human condition: What does it mean to be a human being?

The name Gulliver may suggest that he is gullible

Travel NarrativeGullivers Travels is a parody of the genre of travel narrativeDuring the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, these tales of voyages of exploration and colonial adventure were extremely popular:

Christopher ColumbusAmerigo Vespucci (for whom America is named)Sir Walter RaleighCaptain John Smith

Mores Utopia also parodies the genre. Travel narratives are often sometimes utopianBook IV of Gullivers Travels also parodies Mores Utopia 5

LilliputGulliver encounters a land of tiny people, Lilliput, after being shipwrecked on his first voyage. They are 1/12th the size of the average human, about 6

According to Stuart Sherman, editor of the Longman Anthology of British Literature Vol. 1c:

The diminutive citizens of Lilliput represent human small-mindedness and petty ambitions. Filled with self-importance, they Lilliputians arecruel, treacherous, malicious and destructive.

(Longman Anthology, p. 2531) 6


Gullivers second voyage, to Brobdingnag, a land of giants:

In Brobdingnag Gulliver is reduced to the size of a Lilliputian. 12X the size of man, about 72 According to Stuart Sherman:

He is humbled by his own helplessness and, finding the huge bodiesof the Brobdingnagians grotesque, he realizes how repulsive the Lilliputians must have found him (Longman Anthology, p. 2531)7BrobdingnagWhen Gulliver gives the wise king of Brobdingnag an account of thepolitical affairs of Englandwhich manifest hypocrisy, avarice and hatredthe enlightened monarch concludes that most of the countrys inhabitants must be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the face of the Earth.

Throughout Gullivers Travels that which is admirable is held up to expose corruption in the readers world, and that which is deplorable is identified with the institutions and practices of contemporary Europe, particularly Britain. (Longman Anthology, p. 2531)8


The third part deals with mainly with his accidental visit to the flying Island, where the philosophers and projectors devote all their time and energy to the study of some absurd problems. He also encounters Struldbruggs, immortals that face the same ailments as everyone else, they just never die

Houyhnhnms and YahoosGullivers crew mutinies and puts him ashore on an unknown island

The island turns out to be inhabited by the Houyhnhnms--creatures who look like horses but are more civilized and intelligent than humans, in Gullivers view

The island also has Yahooscreatures who look like humans but are sub-human in intelligence, savage and disgusting


The last part is a most interesting account of his discoveries in the Houyhnhnm land, where horses are endowed with reason and all good and admirable qualities, and are the governing class.

Contrary to the Houyhnhnms, the Yahoos possess every conceivable evil. They are malicious, spiteful, envious, unclean and greedy. Gulliver admires the life and ways of the horses, as much as he is disgusted with the Yahoos, whose relations remind him of those existing in English society to such a degree that he shudders at the prospect of returning to his native.Express neither grief nor joyREASON alone dominates all thinking and decision makingRelationships and courtships have no placeDevaluation of love and all emotionNonexistence for rules or lawsMonotonous existenceRigid SocietyExamination of the HouyhnhnmGreed and envyRage and RevengeMalicious and cruelSociety of without trustSociety without law or orderDevaluation of life and destruction of societySocial Chaos/AnarchyExamination of the YahooValue the principles of conductCharitable and judgingNot fully reasonableCapable of reasonExistence of hypicrosyCapable of ReasonExamination of the Pedro de MendezHouyhnhnm what we could be if we relied solely on reason without any regard for emotion or conduct

Yahoo- what we are fully capable of becoming when we let greed, lust, jealousy, rage and revenge dictate.

Captain Mendez- exemplifies what we as a society should aspire to become. Spontaneous, generous and charitable.


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