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

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

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

A Feminist Approach on Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver Travels" The purpose of this essay is to annalyse Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels from feminist perspective. To fully understand the views that Swift exhibited, with respect to feminist approach, it is important to have some background on Swift himself and women's role in society in the eighteenth century. In the time of Swift, women were considered the legal responsibility of their fathers or husbands. Whatever a woman said in public was a reflection of the ideas of her father or husband. The ideal wife was obedient, for if not their husbands were allowed to physically discipline them. The general view of women was that of an object to be enjoyed by men. It was feared that education of women might lead to a subversion of the natural order which gave men unquestioned dominance. It was commonly believed among men that women need not be educated at all, because their main purposes in society were to tend to domestic dealings and procreation. Swift's view of woman was influenced by the times and the society that he lived in. The paucity of love in author's childhood and the little exposure he had to women when he was growing up also attributed to the corrosive personal isolation. ...read more.

Middle

When Gulliver sees beggars and homeless, he describes in unkind detail the lice crawling on their clothes. The homeless beggar with cancerous breast is a horrific sight to Gulliver as he can see into the crevices and cavities in her body, destroyed by vermin and disease. That is "the most horrible spectacle that ever an European eye beheld". Swift deploys the rhetorical "instruments" necessary for such disavowal figuring the decaying body as female. In Brobdingnag, Gulliver is shocked to see the "monstrous breast" of a nurse giving suck in front of him. Even the act of feeding does not escape his disgust: "I must confess no object ever disgusted me so much as the sight of her monstrous breast..." The flying island of Laputa (from the Spanish la puta, "the whore") has been the object of several feminist discussions particularly to show that women are repeatedly described separately from men. The women are described by geometric shape and mathematical figures. Furthermore, the women are not allowed to explore or travel off the island without specific doctrine from the King. In Laputa, a wife is someone who would rather prostitute herself than stay with her neglectful husband. According to Susan Bruce, Gulliver's Voyage to Laputa enacts men's ultimate inability to control women's bodies and desires. ...read more.

Conclusion

Swift writes " the handsomest among these Maids of Honor, a pleasant, frolicsome girl of sixteen, would sometimes set me astride one of her nipples..." The sexual reference and the attention to the girl's age, signify the lack of morals instilled in some young women of Swift's time. Swift makes examples of these women, not so much as to degrade them, but to condemn their behavior. Swift is bashing, so much as the behavior of men and women in general. Swift puts women on the same level as men, where they are to be judged based upon their capabilities, and of being a worthwhile person, instead of an object of beauty. He goes to the extreme of using bodily functions as a means to symbolize equality, which also serves to express the ridiculousness of the entire situation. Essentially what Swift is saying is that the value of a woman should be based on who she is and not what she appears or what a man desires her to be. Jonathan Swift desired a better human race than existed in the 1700's. He wanted a society in which women were educated equally with men. He wanted a society in which men and women placed a great deal of importance on their virtue, morals and intelligence.Through his satirical views of the human condition, Swift illustrates the weaknesses of mankind and his own ideal for the improvement of humanity. ...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. Swift's main purpose in Gulliver's Travels.

    Part of these Stones are fixed in the Earth, [...] they will dig with their Claws for whole Days to get them out, and carry them away, and hide them by Heaps in their Kennels; but still looking round with great Caution, for fear their Comrades should find out their Treasure" (196).

  2. A Modest Proposal.

    "I have no children, by which I can propose to get a single penny; the youngest being nine years old, and my wife past childbearing" (Paragraph 21) A series of advantages of the proposal is presented by the bigoted narrator, the first being that the state will be able to

  1. Gulliver's Travels - How Does Jonathon Swift use satire to show up the time ...

    For not breaking their egg at the right end. Swift is blatantly ridiculing wars, Swift obviously disliked wars and thinks its petty the ways in which they're started. Swift repeats this when he meets the Houyhnhnms. When he tells them about war they can't believe it as they have never experienced it and don't even have a word for it!

  2. Human Nature in Gulliver's Travels

    Then there is the time when the master comments of Gulliver's species as using reason to "aggravate our natural Corruptions" and notes that we "[have] been very successful in multiplying our original Wants, and seemed to spend our whole Lives in vain Endeavours to supply them by our own Inventions".

  1. Satire and Colonialism in the eighteenth century: 'A Modest Proposal' and 'Gulliver's Travels'

    will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat, when he hath only some particular friends or his own family to dine with him. Thus the square will learn to be a good landlord, and grow popular among his tenants..." I think that from h the reader begins to grasp that the text is satirical.

  2. Gulliver's Travels Essay

    whereof one very narrowly missed my left eye,' shows that the Lilliputians are short-tempered and are willing to do anything to get what they want and sometimes fight for no reason. In the following quote a war starts off due to a law which many resented, 'Which two mighty powers

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

    This is satire for the war with France over religion. This could show that Swift is misanthropic because he is only saying how they are against Gulliver not what good things they have done, if any. However this could show that Swift is not misanthropic because they might not have

  2. Guillivers Travels. In this essay I will discuss all 4 voyages in which ...

    It is a parallel of the English system and how easy it is to full in and out of favour. The low heels represent the Wigs and the high heels represent the Tory?s; political parties that were around at the time Swift wrote the book.

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