Sunday, October 17, 2010


·    Assignment Paper: 4
Ø    Topic                    : Gulliver’s Travels as an allegory
o      Student’s Name   : Gandhi Pooja S.
Ø    Roll No                 : 15
·    URL             
Ø    Semester                : 1
o      Batch                     : 2010-11
              Submitted to,                                                           
              Ruchira Dudhrejiya                                                
              Department of English                        
              Bhavnagar University

·    Introduction:
                     Jonathan swift was born in Dublin on November 30, 1667. He was the son of English lawyer. He grew up there in the care of his uncle before attending Trinity college at the age of fourteen, where he stayed for seven years, he was not of a very studious turn of mind, but he succeed in getting his degree in 1685. His uncle died in 1688 then he became the secretary of Sir William Temple and member of Whig Party. In 1694, he took religious order in the Church of Ireland. Returning to English with Lord Berkeley in 1701. He had begun to write satires on the political and religious corruption. His major satirical works are:
Ø    A Tale of a Tub(1704)
Ø    The Battle of the Books(1697)
Ø    Gulliver’s Travels(1726)
                        He also wrote number of political pamphlets. Because of Swift’s strong allegiance for Church, he became the member of Tory party.

Ø    Gulliver’s travels as an allegory:

*   Allegory:

                          Allegory is the figurative mode of representation conveying meaning other than the literal. Allegory is generally treated as a figure of rhetoric, but an allegory does not have to be expressed in language. Simply put an allegory is a device used to present an idea, principal or meaning in literary form, such as a poem or novel. An allegory in its most general sense is a extended metaphor.
                           The rhetorical strategy of extending a metaphor through an entire narrative so that objects, persons and actions in the text are equated with meaning that lie outside the text.
                           One of the most famous allegories in English is John Bunyan’s pilgrim’s progress (1678), a tale of Christian salvation. Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is also the best example of an allegory.

*   Allegory in voyage to ‘Lilliput’:

·       Flimnap, the Treasurer, represents Sir Robert Walpole:
                            Swift satirizing the manner in which political officers were distributed among the candidates by English king in Swift’s time. Flimnap, was the prime minister of England from 1715to 1716 and then again from 1721to1742. Dancing on a tight rope symbolizes Walpole’s skill in parliamentary tactics and political intrigues. Similarly, Reldresal represents Lord Carteret who was appointed by Walpole to the office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Again, the phrase, “one of the king’s cushions”, refers to one of king George’s mistress who helps to restore Walpole to favour after his fall in 1717.

v   West minister Hall:
                              The ancient temple in which Gulliver is housed in Lilliput probably refers to West minister Hall in which Charles-1 had been condemned to death. The search of Gulliver by the Lilliputians may have been formed by the Whigs to investigate the conduct of the previous government and especially of Oxford and Bolingbroke who were suspected to treasonable relationships with France and Old pretender of that Whig committee.

*   Queen Anne’s annoyance:
                              Gulliver’s account of the annoyance of the Empress of Lilliput at his having written ‘A Tale of Tub’ in which Swift had attacked religious abuses but which had been misinterpreted by the Queen as an attack on religion itself. Gulliver’s account of the conspiracy against him and his impending impeachment is Swift’s satirical description of court-intrigues which were a feature of political life in England at that time. Swift here gives us amusing glimpses of what went on the court of George-1 when Sir Robert Walpole was the most influential of the politicians. The articles of impeachment against Gulliver may be an allegory on the actual impeachment in 1715 of four Tory ex-ministers.

*   Conflict between Big-Endians and Little-Endians:
                             Gulliver speaks of the conflict between the Big-Endians and the Little-Endians in Lilliput. It is funny that, while one party believes that boiled eggs should be broken at the Big end, the party insists on breaking the eggs at the at the smaller end. In this account Swift is ridiculing the conflict between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants.

·       Function of High heels and Low heels:
                            Gulliver speaker of the conflict between High-heels and the Low heels is the example of quarrel between the two major parties Whig and Tory. In the part-I Gulliver described the allegory of political offices.

*   Social life in voyage to Brobdingnag:

§       Allegory on human pride and pretension:
                           When Gulliver has given to the king an account of the life in his own country, of trade, the wars, the conflict in religion, the political parties, the king has a heartly laugh and asks Gulliver whether the latter is a Whig or a Tory. Then turning to one of his ministers, the king observes how contemptible a thing is human grandeur which could be mimicked by such diminutive insects as Gulliver. Swift is here ridiculing human pride and pretension. Human beings who have such lofty ideas about themselves are no better than insects in the eyes of the king of Brobdingnag.

*   Description of beggars:
                            The description of the crowed of beggars whom Gulliver happens to see the metropolis of this country is intended as a satire on the beggars who actually existed in the city of Dublin. The sight is, indeed, horrible and disgusting. Among the beggars, there is a man with a huge tumour in his neck; another beggar has wooden legs, each about twenty feet high. But the most hateful sight is that of the lice crawling on their clothes. This description reinforces Swift’s view of the human the ugliness and foulness of the human body.

*   King’s own interpretation toward England:
                           When the king, comments on Gulliver’s account of the English parliament, the English courts of justice, and other institutions in England. The king’s views is that the history of Gulliver’s country seems to him to be only a series of conspiracies, rebellions, murders, massacres, revolutions, banishment, etc. according to the king, all these are a result of ‘hypocrisy , perfidy, cruelty, rage, madness, hatred, envy, lust, malice and ambition. The king concludes his comment by expressing the view that the bulk of the people of Gulliver’s country are the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth. These comments of the king almost sum up Swift’s own cynical views about mankind in general.  

*   Contemporary life in part-III:

·       Allegory on experiments and researches:
                          We are also greatly amused by the useless experiments and researches which are going on at the Academy of Projectors in Lagado. The projectors here are busy finding method to extract sunbeams out of cucumber, to convert human excrement into its original food, to build horses from the roof downwards to the foundation, to obtain silk from cobwebs, and to produce books on various subjects by the use of a machine without having to exert one’s brain. All these were intended as a satire on the kind of work the Royal Society in England was doing in those days, swift here ridicule scientists, accodemics planners, and intellectuals in fact all people who proceed according to theory and are useless when it comes to actual practice.

v   English system of administration in Laputa:
                      In the account of the life in Laputa, Swift also satirizes the English system of administration, especially with regard to Ireland of the time. The English government ruled Ireland from a long distance, and was thus not in direct touch with its Irish subjects even through some of the English politicians held property in Ireland. Swift also here gives us an allegorical account of the successful resistance of Ireland to William Wood’s half-pence.

§       Historians and critics of part-III:
                   Swift satirizes historians and literary critics through Gulliver’s interview with the ghosts of the famous dead. The point is that literary critics often misinterpret great authors like Homer and Aristotle. In the portrayal of the struldbrugs, Swift satirizes the human longing for immortality. The immortal persons have grown so old, feeble, and infirm that they want to die but death does not come to them.

*   Voyage to the land of Houyhnhnms:

*   Contrast between Yahoo and Houyhnhnms:
                   In this part the Yahoo are intended to represent human beings. The very initial description of the Yahoos given to us by Gulliver is repellent. Gulliver describes then as abominable, and he is both astonished and horrified on seeing the physical resemblance between them and persons of his own race. By contrast with the Yahoo, the Houyhnhnms are noble and benevolent animals who are governed by reason and who lead an orderly life.
                 Yahoos’ love of their guilt, their gluttony, and their weakness for liquor. The master also speaks of the lascivious behavior of the female Yahoo. Houyhnhnms are excellent being whose grand principle is to cultivate reason and be wholly governed by it. Houyhnhnms hold periodical meeting of the population are discussed and solved. Yahoos represent human being, and Houyhnhnms, who are horses Swift’s purpose here is to attribute to horses certain qualities which would lacking in human being. The main quality is reason or the rational quality which human beings, according to Swift.

*   Gulliver’s denunciation of the human race as represented by his own countryman:
               When Gulliver gives to the master Houyhnhnms an account of the events and happenings in the England and in other European countries was due sometimes to the ambition of kings and sometimes to the corruption of ministers. Gulliver speaks of the numerous deadly weapons which the European nations employ for destruction purposes. Gulliver then tells his host about the law-suits that are fought in English courts, and he speaks disparagingly about lawyer and judges. The whole of this account by Gulliver is an exposure of the evils of war and the wickedness of lawyers and judges. Gulliver also says that many people in his country ruin themselves by drinking, gambling, and debauchery; and that many are guilt of such crimes as murder, theft, robbery, forgery, rape, and sodomy.

*   Allegory on prime minister of England:
              The account which Gulliver gives of the political life in his country is really a bitter criticism of the evils that prevail not only in England but in all countries of the world. The prime minister, according to Gulliver, is a person wholly free from joy and grief, love and hatred, pity and anger; and he is a person with a violent desire for wealth, power, and titles and with indignation ever to tell the truth about any matter. The vast numbers of people of his country, Gulliver says, live by begging, robbing, stealing, cheating, pimping, forging, whoring and so on. Indeed, this is just allegory but denunciation and invective.

*   Conclusion:
              A part from the four voyages of “Gulliver’s Travels”, Swift used the devices of allegory to address political life, social life, and contemporary life of human beings. He also gives the contrast between human beings and animals. Throughout the journey of Gulliver, Swift gives the touchy picture of human society.            






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