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What are the Objects of Swift's Satire in 'Gulliver's Travels' in the 'Voyages to Lilliput' and 'Brobdingnag', and How Does he Satirise Them?

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Introduction

What are the Objects of Swift's Satire in 'Gulliver's Travels' in the 'Voyages to Lilliput' and 'Brobdingnag', and How Does he Satirise Them? Jonathan Swift was a popular 18th century author who was a strong satirist of many aspects of 18th century English culture. He was very good at using literature, such as 'Gulliver's Travels' and 'A Modest Proposal' to point out and satirise feelings he had about, what he considered, 'problems' of the society in his time. Originally Swift had written "Gulliver's Travels" so he could explain and demonstrate his disgust of British society, although in the modern day it is a popular children's novel. Throughout 'Gulliver's Travels' he very subtly shows his disgust of English culture using the different voyages in 'Gulliver's Travels'. In particular he focuses his satire on travelogues of his time, politics, legal terms, religion and the church, women and the human physical body. Travelogues were a very popular style of writing in the 18th century. Swift felt that travelogues were over used and written in a pedantic way. He felt the way in which many authors wrote travelogues made themselves sound a lot better, perhaps more heroic, than they really were. They would be written in first person, and more often than not be filled with dramatic events, for example 'I did this, then I did this after'. ...read more.

Middle

or had the best understanding of politics but on their entertainment skills alone, "Whoever performs his part with the most agility, and holds out the longest in leaping and creeping, is rewarded with the blue-coloured silk", Swift describes this ridiculous way of being promoted to satirise the British elections. Swift used this example to demonstrate how he felt the Honours system worked in Britain, being elected by giving pleasure or pleasing those who have more power. Swift further satirises old traditions of the government such as the game 'leaping and creeping', this is were a the Lilliputian ministers try to please the emperor to get promoted, this is satirising how people get voted into the British government not on knowledge but pleasing the people above you. It was very unlikely that Swift would ever leave satirising the British government out of any book he wrote because of his anger with British politics having failed to get elected into it himself. Swift liked to satirise flattery, he felt that this was the made key to getting into the government. To satirise this Swift uses the introduction for the emperor in Lilliput before the nine requirements in Chapter 3, 'taller than the sons of men; pleasant as the spring, comfortable as the summer, fruitful as autumn, dreadful as winter', is just a small segment of the whole introduction. ...read more.

Conclusion

So when Swift wrote in chapter 5 about the maids 'stripping to the skin' while Gulliver was in their presence, this would have been a preposterous thought for people of the 18th century even more than it would be now. Swift loved to satirise this because it was something that fascinated, it also makes us laugh in a childish way and would therefore keep us reading. From reading "Gulliver's Travels" it is clear that Swift had a very strong dislike of the culture and government of Britain and showed his disgust by satirising them using literature. Satire is a rude way of getting your point across often ridiculing something and will offend many people. When Swift wrote 'Gulliver's Travels' he said 'he wanted to vex the world and intended to make people angry by holding a mirror up to English society'. Swift wrote 'Gulliver's Travels' as a satirical book but wasn't sure how the British public would take it, so he first published it under the name Lemuel Gulliver, which makes it sound even more like a travelogue. Swift using Lilliput and Brobdingnag ridiculed Britain and offended the majority of the population, so when the public found out that Swift was the author of 'Gulliver's Travels', he felt he could no longer work in Britain, so he left the country and went to live in Ireland. ...read more.

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