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Which phrase better describes 'Gulliver's Travels',

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Introduction

Which phrase better describes 'Gulliver's Travels', "A very merry book" (Arbuth Not) or "Saeva Indignato"? Gulliver's Travels, sees our narrator going on journeys to four startlingly different nations. The comic elements throughout the book show the reader that the literature they are reading does indeed fall into the category of being "A very merry book", however, upon closer inspection, this may not be the case. The reader is constantly presented with cynical comparisons between events and discussions taking place during out narrator's travels, and the workings and traits of human society. Both phrases shown in the title can be related to this book, but ultimately, it depends on how the reader approaches, and reads the novel. Gulliver talks about all manners of social injustices and personal discomfort. Often the literature is with biting sarcasm but sometimes with violent explosions of anger, frequently with quiet, subtle ridicule. However he does this, the intention is the same and he urges the reader to really think about the effect of these views. Through various characters Gulliver meets on his travels, their characteristics are aimed to remind the reader of human weaknesses such as lust, barbarism, pride and conceit, often in a vary scathing manner. ...read more.

Middle

The satire in this book is aimed at the Yahoos: Swift uses them as a device to explain how awful the human race really is. The comparisons are frequently invidious, and in many cases lascivious. Swift uses all of skills in his power to demonstrate the shameful behaviour or the human being. Instances such as these strengthen the case for 'Saeva Indignato' being a more apt description of Gulliver's Travels. Gulliver is portrayed as an honest and educated man who is philosophical about the adventures and mishaps he encounters. He faces the new and wonderful communities with genuine interest and relays details refreshingly and without malice. It is Gulliver's attention to detail with gives the reader an insight into the intricacies of the worlds that Gulliver visits. The reader develops a habit of agreeing with Gulliver's impressions of the societies he encounters, and the reader quickly learns about Gulliver's personality, his likes and dislikes, his joys and fears, his morality and political preferences. Gulliver is above all else a good conversationalist, always ready to ask and answer questions; he has an enquiring mind and is keen to learn. ...read more.

Conclusion

In book four the satirical ingredient is sarcasm and the grey 'master' frequently uses this, for example describing the Yahoo as 'a sort of animal'. After reviewing the book more closely, it seems that 'Saeva Indignato' is perhaps a more fitting description of Gulliver's Travels. The cutting and insulting irony used throughout, and the satirical descriptions of all Gulliver meets acts as a social commentary on humans and the society which Swift lived in at the time. It is in Book four that the reader's attentions are drawn to the resemblance between Yahoos and humans. The filthy lifestyles, and cringe worthy habits of these creatures is meant to be a criticism of humans, and their role in society. The novel can be described as a "very merry book" in the manner which it is highly comical at times, but once the reader looks a bit deeper into the criticisms being made, they can realise that the novel is not "merry" in the slightest. It is highly critical and at times, very rude and coarse. It is full of cutting criticism, and is aimed at undermining the workings of society. It is indeed full of fierce indignation towards society. ...read more.

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