• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Human Nature in Gulliver's Travels

Extracts from this document...


James Beattie wrote of Gulliver's Travels in 1778 that Swift's 'tale represents human nature itself as the object of contempt and abhorrence'. To what extent do you agree with the above statement? Answer with close reference to the text, using material from ALL four books. Gulliver's Travels (GT) may seem to be a somewhat dispersed satire, with Swift attacking various unrelated objects specific to his time, especially across the first three parts of the travelogue. However, a distinction must be made that, although many of the references that Swift make are contextual and unconnected, the very aspect of those targets that he wishes to correct is certainly not specific itself. Instead, it is so fundamental to humans that it transcends all societies, past or present, near or distant. Hence, it is almost absolute that Swift's tale "represents human nature itself as the object of contempt and abhorrence" as noted by James Beattie. Perhaps one of the most obvious parallels to the people of his world that Swift tries to make is when the politics of Lilliput is being described to Gulliver. With the descriptions of Lilliput and Blefuscu as being "the two great Empires" who have "been engaged in a most obstinate War for six and thirty Moons past" because of disagreement over which end of the egg to break, it is certainly obvious that Swift is allegorising England and France. ...read more.


When he still "observed it had yet some Life", he has to be so sure that he is safe by giving it "a strong Slash cross the Neck" so in order to "thoroughly [dispatch] it". Swift, is therefore, not exactly satirising Gulliver for his violence in the event of insecurity - that is a natural animal instinct that should not be corrected, but really for his relaxed and somewhat complacent attitude the moment he is assured that no one can harm him. Such an inclination is so true of humans in all generations and in all lands. This ridicule on Gulliver is further sustained when he arrives in Luggnagg and learns about the Struldbruggs. Not only does he get "struck with inexpressible Delight" and "[break] out into Expressions perhaps a little too extravagant", he becomes unexceptionally uncritical and full of flaws in his reasoning the moment he realises the human desire of living an immortal life has been fulfilled. He makes the unsound assumption by calling the Struldbruggs "Reverend Sages" and commenting them to be "too strict for the corrupt and libertine Manners of a Court" when the only difference about them from a normal human being is that they can live forever. ...read more.


Lastly, there is, Pedro de Mendez, the captain of the ship who found Gulliver after he was abandoned by the Houyhnhnms. As described by Gulliver, "he was a very courteous and generous Person" and despite being treated by Gulliver with ceaseless criticisms and expressions of disgust, "assured me he only meant to do me all the Service he was able, and spoke so very movingly". He likewise does all he can to sustain Gulliver while he was with him, and submits as much as possible to his crazy desire of not wanting to be in the company of humans. It must not be forgotten, however, that all the good aspects of humans shown are more of exceptions rather than anything significant. Moreover, they serve the bigger function of keeping the travelogue accessible and believable so that Swift's hidden satire can work its way into the reader. In conclusion, the first three books satirise specific targets, as well as Gulliver himself, for their human follies, while the last consolidates all the criticisms and make them resurface as a harsher and more venomous satire. Therefore, it can be concluded that James Beattie's comment on GT as "[representing] human nature itself as the object of contempt and abhorrence" is true to almost full extent. Secondary 4 2007 Term 4 Literature Essay Assignment Gulliver's Travels Question 1 Justin Chua (10) 4J ?? ?? ?? ?? Page 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Jonathan Swift section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Jonathan Swift essays

  1. Write and essay on the methods and objectives of Swift's satire.

    In A Modest Proposal Swift made his readers take notice of the dire situation in Ireland, and he pointed a finger at the English who he considered responsible for it. He presents the idea that a man's value can be determined in pounds and shillings and the conclusion is that children might profitably be send to the butcher shop!

  2. "The chief object of satire in 'Gulliver's Travels' is Gulliver himself." Discuss.

    The focus of Laputa is intellectual and cognitive. In book three the reader needs to consider four main areas of satire. Swift attacks the false learning and bizarre research by making the projectors eccentric and obsessive. He uses the oppression of Balnibari by Laputa to remind the reader of Anglo-Irish issues.

  1. Consider Swift's presentation of two of the characters in 'Waterland' who you find most ...

    Here again Swift offers us interesting insight on the human mind as he shows how people look back at the happiest moments of their lives and try to understand why all went wrong and often look at God as a solution to their problems, thus Mary looks back at the

  2. A Feminist Approach on Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver Travels"

    Women's voices were not important. When Gulliver returns home from the Land of Houyhnhnms, he finds the smell of his wife and children revolting, intolerable, due to his experiences with the Yahoos. A closer examination of Swift's work shows that attacking women is a misconception.

  1. Based On Your Reading Of Gulliver's Travels, To What Extent Do You Agree That ...

    However Swift may be right and might only want the world to improve, and one way to do this is to tell people plainly and simply. The king's response to what Gulliver says in damning. He calls humans, 'the most pernicious race of odious little vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl the earth."

  2. "Swift has a very bleak view of human nature." Discuss the ways in which ...

    This is actually a subtle attack on the way Europeans quarrel, and how a poor government system is in place. The Lilliputians select spokesmen and men of power by jumping over a pole. They are also in a war over which side an egg should be eaten from.

  1. Compare the persuasive techniques and the development of the argument in 'Old Major's speech' ...

    This is ironic because the whole reason that Swift is writing this proposal is in protest at his sensible suggestions being ignored. In the final paragraph, Swift says that he has no "personal interest in endeavouring to promote this necessary work" by saying that he has no children.

  2. Gulliver's Travels Essay

    a fly but as the story progresses the little beings get more vicious and start wars because of silly reasons. Gulliver is found by two small Lilliputians. These small little men are voracious and ravenous for wealth as their plan was to make money off this extraordinary figure, but when

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work