The Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures
Human being hypostases in “Gulliver’s travels” by Johnatan Swift.
III- d year student, group 394
Chapter I: General background of the 18th century English literature
1.1. The consolidation of the novel
1.2.Johnatan Swift –a great pamphleteer of his age
Chapter II: Hyman being hypostases in “Gulliver’s Travels” by Johnatan Swift
2.1. The protagonist presentation .
2.2. The changing hypostases of the protagonist
The purpose of this course paper is to investigate the human being hypostases as presented in Johnathan Swift’s great work “Gulliver’s travels”.
Gulliver’s Travels was a controversial work when it was first published in 1726. In fact, it was not until almost ten years after its first printing that the book appeared with the entire text that Swift had originally intended it to have. Ever since, editors have excised many of the passages, particularly the more caustic ones dealing with bodily functions. Even without those passages, however, Gulliver’s Travels serves as a biting satire, and Swift ensures that it is both humorous and critical, constantly attacking British and European society through its descriptions of imaginary countries. Gulliver’s Travels is about a specific set of political conflicts, but if it were nothing more than that it would long ago have been forgotten. The staying power of the work comes from its depiction of the human condition and its often despairing, but occasionally hopeful, sketch of the possibilities for humanity to rein in its baser instincts.
“Originally, the novel was to be the story of an imaginary world voyage by a certain Martin Scriblerus, but in the interval between 1720-1726 Swift had changed the name of the hero to Lemuel Gulliver”1.
In this course- paper we tried to review the following points: the presentation of the time when the novel “Gulliver’s Travels” was written, the explanation of the literary term - the novel, also an important part in this course-paper takes the biography and the literary activity of such a great pamphleteer as Johnatan Swift.
The second part of the course-paper is composed of two parts: in the first one is presented the protagonist of the story- Lemuel Gulliver, his character and the main facts about his life; the second one is about the human metamorphoses happened with the protagonist of the novel. In this part are disclosed the main metamorphoses, which had changed the life and the internal world of the main character.
I. General background of the 18th century English literature
POLITICAL CONDITIONS. During the first part of the eighteenth century the direct connection between politics and literature was closer than at any previous period of English life; for the practical spirit of the previous generation continued to prevail, so that the chief writers were very ready to concern themselves with the affairs of State, and in the uncertain strife of parties ministers were glad to enlist their aid. On the death of King William in 1702, Anne, sister of his wife Queen Mary and daughter of James II, became Queen. Unlike King William she was a Tory and at first filled offices with members of that party. But the “Whigs supported the English campaigns under the Duke of Marlborough against Louis XIV”2, who therefore gradually regained control, and in 1708 the Queen had to submit to a Whig ministry. She succeeded in ousting them in 1710, and a Tory cabinet was formed by Henry Harley (afterwards Earl of Oxford) and Henry St. John (afterwards Viscount Bolingbrook). On the death of Anne in 1714 Bolingbrook, with other Tories, was intriguing for a second restoration of the Stuarts in the person of the son of James II (the 'Old Pretender'). But the nation decided for a “Protestant German prince, a descendant of James I through his daughter Elizabeth”3, and this prince was crowned as George I--an event which brought England peace at the price of a century of rule by an unenlightened and sordid foreign dynasty. The Tories were violently turned out of office; Oxford was imprisoned, and Bolingbrook, having fled to the Pretender, was declared a traitor. Ten years later he was allowed to come back and attempted to oppose Robert Walpole, the Whig statesman who for twenty years governed England in the name of the first two Georges; but in the upshot Bolingbrook was again obliged to retire to France. How closely these events were connected with the fortunes of the foremost authors we shall see as we proceed.
THE GENERAL SPIRIT OF THE PERIOD. The writers of the reigns of Anne and George I called their period the Augustan Age, because they flattered themselves that with them English life and literature had reached a culminating period of civilization and elegance corresponding to that which existed at Rome under the Emperor Augustus. They believed also that both in the art of living and in literature they had rediscovered and were practicing the principles of the best periods of Greek and Roman life. In our own time this judgment appears equally arrogant and mistaken. In reality the men of the early eighteenth century, like those of the Restoration, largely misunderstood the qualities of the classical spirit, and thinking to reproduce them attained only a superficial, pseudo-classical, imitation. The main characteristics of the period and its literature continue, with some further development, those of the Restoration, and may be summarily indicated as follows:
Interest was largely centered in the practical well being either of society as a whole or of one's own social class or set. The majority of writers, furthermore, belonged by birth or association to the upper social stratum and tended to overemphasize its artificial conventions, often looking with contempt on the other classes. To them conventional good breeding, fine manners, the pleasures of the leisure class, and the standards of 'The Town' (fashionable London society) were the only part of life much worth regarding.
The men of this age carried still further the distrust and dislike felt by the previous generation for emotion, enthusiasm, and strong individuality both in life and in literature, and exalted Reason and Regularity as their guiding stars. The terms 'decency' and 'neatness' were forever on their lips. They sought a conventional uniformity in manners, speech, and indeed in nearly everything else, and were uneasy if they deviated far from the approved, respectable standards of the body of their fellows. Great poetic imagination, therefore, could scarcely exist among them, or indeed supreme greatness of any sort.
They had little appreciation for external Nature or for any beauty except that of formalized Art. A forest seemed to most of them merely wild and gloomy, and great mountains chiefly terrible, but they took delight in gardens of artificially trimmed trees and in regularly plotted and alternating beds of domestic flowers. The Elizabethans also, as we have seen, had had much more feeling for the terror than for the grandeur of the sublime in Nature, but the Elizabethans had had nothing of the elegant primness of the Augustans.
In speech and especially in literature, most of all in poetry, they were given to abstractness of thought and expression, intended to secure elegance, but often serving largely to substitute superficiality for definiteness and significant meaning. They abounded in personifications of abstract qualities and ideas ('Laughter, heavenly maid,' Honor, Glory, Sorrow, and so on, with prominent capital letters), a sort of a pseudo-classical substitute for emotion.
They were still more fully confirmed than the men of the Restoration in the conviction that the ancients had attained the highest possible perfection in literature, and some of them made absolute submission of judgment to the ancients, especially to the Latin poets and the Greek, Latin, and also the seventeenth century classicizing French critics. Some authors seemed timidly to desire to be under authority and to glory in surrendering their independence, individuality, and originality to foreign and long-established leaders and principles.
Under these circumstances the effort to attain the finished beauty of classical literature naturally resulted largely in a more or less shallow formal smoothness.
There was a strong tendency to moralizing, which also was not altogether free from conventionality and superficiality.
Although the 'Augustan Age' must be considered to end before the middle of the century, the same spirit continued dominant among many writers until near its close, so that almost the whole of the century may be called the period of pseudo-classicism.
1.1. The consolidation of the novel.
A novel (from French nouvelle Italian "novella", "new") is an extended, generally fictional narrative, typically in prose. Until the eighteenth century, the word referred specifically to short fictions of love and intrigue as opposed to romances, which were epic-length works about love and adventure. Novels are generally between 60,000-200,000 words, or 300-1,300 pages, in length. During the 18th century the novel adopted features of the old romance and became one of the major literary genres. It is today defined mostly by its ability to become the object of literary criticism demanding artistic merit and a specific 'literary' style—or specific literary styles.
The English novel was for the most the product of the middle class. It called attention to middle class ideas and sensibilities. The protagonist is no more a refinied aristokrat dealing with extraordinally circumstances, but a borgeois trying to find his or her place in the society.
“In 18th century English literature developed several types of novel: novel of adventures, best exemplified by D.Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe”; satirical novel,its finest exponent being J.Swift with “Gulliver’s Travels”; picaresque novel, illustrated by Defoe’s “Moll Flanders”, H.Fielding’s “Tom Jones”; epistolary novel, its greatest master being S.Richardson with “Pamella and Clarissa”; sentimental novel, developad by L.Sterne in ”Tristam Shandy”, “A Sentimental Journey”; gothic novel, its first practitioner being H. Walpole with “The Castle of Otranto”; novel of manners, raised to a new level of art by J.Austen in “Pride and Prejudice”; anti-novel, practised by L.Sterne in “Tristram Shandy”4”.
One meaning of the English word novel has remained stable: "novel" can still signify what is new owing to its "novelty". When it comes to fiction, however, the meaning of the term has changed over time:
“The period 1200-1750 saw a rise of the novel (originally a short piece of fiction) rivaling the romance (the epic-length performance). This development, which one could describe as the first rise of the novel, occurred across Europe, though only the Spanish and the English went one step further and allowed the word novel (Spanish: novela) to become their regular term for fictional narratives.
The period 1700-1800 saw the rise of a "new romance" in reaction to the production of potentially scandalous novels. The movement encountered a complex situation in the English market, where the term "new romance" could hardly be ventured, after the novel had done so much to transform taste. The new genre also adopted the name novel: this new novel was a work of new epic proportions, with the effect that the English (and Spanish) eventually needed new word for the original short "novel": The term novella was created to fill the gap in English; "short story" brought a further refinement”5.
“The meaning of the term "romance" changed within the same complex process, becoming the word for a love story whether in life or fiction. Other meanings include the musicologist's genre "Romance" of a short and amiable piece, or Romance languages for the languages derived from Latin (French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, and Portuguese)”6.
We have traced the literary production of the eighteenth century in many different forms, but it still remains to speak of one of the most important, the novel, which in the modern meaning of the word had its origin not long before 1750. Springing at that time into apparently sudden popularity, it replaced the drama as the predominant form of literature and has continued such ever since. The reasons are not hard to discover. The drama is naturally the most popular literary form in periods like the Elizabethan when the ability (or inclination) to read is not general, when men are dominated by the zest for action, and when cities have become sufficiently large to keep the theaters well filled. It is also the natural form in such a period as that of the Restoration, when literary life centers about a frivolous upper class who demand an easy and social form of entertainment. But the condition is very different when, as in the eighteenth and still more in the nineteenth century, the habit of reading, and some recognition of its educating influence, had spread throughout almost all classes and throughout the country, creating a public far too large, too scattered, and too varied to gain access to the London and provincial theaters or to find all their needs supplied by a somewhat artificial literary form. The novel, on the other hand, gives a much fuller portrayal of life than does the drama, and allows the much more detailed analysis of characters and situations which the modern mind has come more and more to demand.
The novel, which for our present purpose must be taken to include the romance, is, of course, only a particular and highly developed kind of long story, one of the latest members of the family of fiction, or the larger family of narrative, in prose and verse. The medieval romances, for example, included most of the elements of the novel, even, sometimes, psychological analysis; but the romances usually lacked the unity, the complex and careful structure, the thorough portrayal of character, and the serious attention to the real problems of life which in a general way distinguish the modern novel. Much the same is true of the Elizabethan 'novels,' which, besides, were generally short as well as of small intellectual and ethical caliber. During the Restoration period and a little later there began to appear several kinds of works, which perhaps looked more definitely toward the later novel. Banyan’s religious allegories may likely enough have had a real influence on it, and there were a few English tales and romances of chivalry, and a few more realistic pieces of fiction. “The habit of journal writing and the letters about London life sent by some persons in the city to their friends in the country should also be mentioned. The De Coverly papers in 'The Spectator' approach distinctly toward the novel. They give real presentation of both characters and setting (social life) and lack only connected treatment of the story (of Sir Roger). Defoe's fictions, picaresque tales of adventure, come still closer, but lack the deeper artistic and moral purpose and treatment suggested a moment ago”7. The case is not very different with Swift's 'Gulliver's Travels,' which, besides, is primarily a satire. Substantially, therefore, all the materials were now ready, awaiting only the fortunate hand that should arrange and shape them into a real novel. This proved to be the hand of a rather unlikely person, the outwardly commonplace printer, Samuel Richardson.
1.2. JOHNATHAN SWIFT - A GREAT PAMPHLETEER OF HIS
“His doctrine was that virtue is the one thing which deserves love and admiration, and yet that virtue in this hideous chaos of a world involves misery and decay”8.
Johnathan Swift is one of the best representatives in English literature of sheer intellectual power, but his character, his aims, his environment, and the circumstances of his life denied to him also literary achievement of the greatest permanent significance. Johnathan Swift (November 30, 1667 – October 19, 1745) was an Irish cleric, satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for Whigs then for Tories), and poet, famous for works like Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, The Drapier's Letters, The Battle of the Books, and A Tale of a Tub. Swift is probably the foremost prose satirist in the English language, although he is less well known for his poetry. Swift published all of his works under pseudonyms — such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, M.B. Drapier — or anonymously. He is also known for being “a master of 2 styles of satire; the Horatian and Juvenalian styles”9.
Swift, though of unmixed English descent, related to both Dryden and Robert Herrick, was born in Ireland, in 1667. Brought up in poverty by his widowed mother, he spent the period between his fourteenth and twentieth years recklessly and without distinction at Trinity College, Dublin. From the outbreak attending the Revolution of 1688 he fled to England, where for the greater part of nine years he lived in the country as a sort of secretary to the retired statesman, Sir William Temple, who was his distant relative by marriage. Here he had plenty of time for reading, but the position of dependence and the consciousness that his great though still unformed powers of intellect and of action were rusting away in obscurity undoubtedly did much to increase the natural bitterness of his disposition. As the result of a quarrel he left Temple for a time and took holy orders, and on the death of Temple he returned to Ireland as chaplain to the English Lord Deputy. He was eventually given several small livings and other church positions in and near Dublin, and at one of these, Laracor, he made his home for another nine years. During all this period and later the Miss Esther Johnson whom he has immortalized as 'Stella' holds a prominent place in his life.” A girl of technically gentle birth, she also had been a member of Sir William Temple's household, was infatuated with Swift, and followed him to Ireland. About their intimacy there has always hung a mystery. It has been held that after many years they were secretly married, but this is probably a mistake; the essential fact seems to be that Swift, with characteristic selfishness, was willing to sacrifice any other possible prospects of 'Stella' to his own mere enjoyment of her society. It is certain, however, that he both highly esteemed her and reciprocated her affection so far as it was possible for him to love any woman”10.
In 1704 Swift published his first important works (written earlier, while he was living with Temple), which are among the masterpieces of his satirical genius. In 'The Battle of the Books' he supports Temple, who had taken the side of the Ancients in a hotly debated and very futile quarrel then being carried on by French and English writers as to whether ancient or modern authors are the greater. 'The Tale of a Tub' is a keen, coarse, and violent satire on the actual irreligion of all Christian Churches. It takes the form of a burlesque history of three brothers, Peter (the Catholics, so called from St. Peter), Martin (the Lutherans and the Church of England, named from Martin Luther), and Jack (the Dissenters, who followed John Calvin); but a great part of the book is made up of irrelevant introductions and digressions in which Swift ridicules various absurdities, literary and otherwise, among them the very practice of digressions. Swift's instinctive dominating impulse was personal ambition, and during this period he made long visits to London, attempting to push his fortunes with the Whig statesmen, who were then growing in power; attempting, that is, to secure a higher position in the Church; also, be it added, to get relief for the ill-treated English Church in Ireland. He made the friendship of Addison, who called him, perhaps rightly, 'the greatest genius of the age,' and of Steele, but he failed of his main purposes; and when in 1710 the Tories replaced the Whigs he accepted their solicitations and devoted his pen, already somewhat experienced in pamphleteering, to their service. It should not be overlooked that up to this time, when he was already more than forty years of age, his life had been one of continual disappointment, so that he was already greatly soured. Now, in conducting a paper, 'The Examiner,' and in writing masterly political pamphlets, he found occupation for his tremendous energy and gave very vital help to the ministers. During the four years of their control of the government he remained in London on intimate terms with them, especially with Bolingbrook and Harley, exercising a very large advisory share in the bestowal of places of all sorts and in the general conduct of affairs. This was Swift's proper sphere; in the realization and exercise of power he took a fierce and deep delight. His bearing at this time too largely reflected the less pleasant side of his nature, especially his pride and arrogance. “Yet toward professed inferiors he could be kind; and real playfulness and tenderness, little evident in most of his other writings, distinguish his 'Journal to Stella,' which he wrote for her with affectionate regularity, generally every day, for nearly three years. The 'Journal' is interesting also for its record of the minor details of the life of Swift and of London in his day. His association, first and last, with literary men was unusually broad; when politics estranged him from Steele and Addison he drew close to Pope and other Tory writers in what they called the Scriblerus Club”11. Despite his political success, Swift was still unable to secure the definite object of his ambition, a bishopric in England, since the levity with which he had treated holy things in 'A Tale of a Tub' had hopelessly prejudiced Queen Anne against him and the ministers could not act altogether in opposition to her wishes. In 1713 he received the unwelcome gift of the deanship of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, and the next year, when the Queen died and the Tory ministry fell, he withdrew to Dublin, as he himself bitterly said, 'to die like a poisoned rat in a hole.'
In Swift's personal life there were now events in which he again showed to very little advantage. In London he had become acquainted with a certain Hester Vanhomrigh, the 'Vanessa' of his longest poem, 'Cadenus and Vanessa' “in which 'Cadenus' is an anagram of 'Decanus,' Latin for 'Dean,' i. e., Swift”12. Miss Vanhomrigh, like 'Stella,' was infatuated with Swift, and like her followed him to Ireland, and for nine years, as has been said, he 'lived a double life' between the two. 'Vanessa' then died, probably of a broken heart, and 'Stella' a few years later. Over against this conduct, so far as it goes, may be set Swift's quixotic but extensive and “constant personal benevolence and generosity to the poor”13.
In general, this last period of Swift's life amounted to thirty years of increasing bitterness. He devoted some of his very numerous pamphlets to defending the Irish, and especially the English who formed the governing class in Ireland, against oppression by England. Most important here were 'The Drapier's .’A Modest Proposal,' the proposal, namely, that the raising of children for food, like pigs, should alleviate the misery of the poor in Ireland is one of the most powerful, as well as one of the most horrible, satires which ever issued from any human imagination. In 1726 (seven years after 'Robinson Crusoe') appeared Swift's masterpiece, the only one of his works still widely known, namely, 'The Travels of Lemuel Gulliver.' The remarkable power of this unique work lies partly in its perfect combination of two apparently inconsistent things, first, a story of marvelous adventure which must always remain (in the first parts) one of the most popular of children's classics; and second, a bitter satire against mankind. The intensity of the satire increases as the work proceeds. In the first voyage, that to the Lilliputians, the tone is one mainly of humorous irony; but in such passages as the hideous description of the Struldbrugs in the third voyage the cynical contempt is unspeakably painful, and from the distorted libel on mankind in the Yahoos of the fourth voyage a reader recoils in indignant disgust.
“The complexity of Swift's character and the great difference between the viewpoints of his age and of ours make it easy at the present time to judge him with too great harshness. Apart from his selfish egotism and his bitterness, his nature was genuinely loyal, kind and tender to friends and connections; and he hated injustice and the more flagrant kinds of hypocrisy with a sincere and irrepressible violence. Whimsicalness and a contemptuous sort of humor were as characteristic of him as biting sarcasm, and his conduct and writings often veered rapidly from the one to the other in a way puzzling to one who does not understand him”14. Nevertheless he was dominated by cold intellect and an instinct for the practical. To show sentiment, except under cover, he regarded as a weakness, and it is said that when he was unable to control it he would retire from observation. He was ready to serve mankind to the utmost of his power when effort seemed to him of any avail, and at times he sacrificed even his ambition to his convictions; but he had decided that the mass of men were hopelessly foolish, corrupt, and inferior, personal sympathy with them was impossible to him, and his contempt often took the form of sardonic practical jokes, practiced sometimes on a whole city. Of his extreme arrogance and brutality to those who offended him there are numerous anecdotes; not least in the case of women, whom he, like most men of his age, regarded as man's inferiors. He once drove a lady from her own parlor in tears by violent insistence that she should sing, against her will, and when he next met her, inquired, 'Pray, madam, are you as proud and ill-natured to-day as when I saw you last?' It seems, indeed, that throughout his life Swift's mind was positively abnormal, and this may help to excuse the repulsive elements in his writings. For metaphysics and abstract principles, it may be added, he had a bigoted antipathy. In religion he was a staunch and sincere High Churchman, but it was according to the formal fashion of many thinkers of his day; he looked on the Church not as a medium of spiritual life, of which he, like his generation, had little conception, but as one of the organized institutions of society, useful in maintaining decency and order.
“Swift's 'poems' require only passing notice. In any strict sense they are not poems at all, since they are entirely bare of imagination, delicacy, and beauty. Instead they exhibit the typical pseudo-classical traits of matter-of-factness and clearness; also, as Swift's personal notes, cleverness, directness, trenchant intellectual power, irony, and entire ease, to which latter the prevailing octosyllabic couplet meter contributes. This is the meter of 'L'Allegro' and 'Il Penseroso,' and the contrast between these poems and Swift's is instructive”15.
Swift's prose style has substantially the same qualities. Writing generally as a man of affairs, for practical ends, he makes no attempt at elegance and is informal even to the appearance of looseness of expression. Of conscious refinements and also, in his stories, of technical artistic structural devices, he has no knowledge; he does not go out of the straight path in order to create suspense, he does not always explain difficulties of detail, and sometimes his narrative becomes crudely bare. He often displays the greatest imaginative power, but it is always a practical imagination; his similes, for example, are always from very matter-of-fact things. But more notable are his positive merits. He is always absolutely clear, direct, and intellectually forceful; in exposition and argument he is cumulatively irresistible; in description and narration realistically picturesque and fascinating; and he has the natural instinct for narration which gives vigorous movement and climax. Indignation and contempt often make his style burn with passion, and humor, fierce or bitterly mirthful, often enlivens it with startling flashes. “The great range of the satires which make the greater part of Swift's work is supported in part by variety of satiric method. Sometimes he pours out a savage direct attack. Sometimes, in a long ironical statement, he says exactly the opposite of what he really means to suggest. Sometimes he uses apparently logical reasoning where either, as in 'A Modest Proposal,' the proposition, or, as in the 'Argument Against Abolishing Christianity,' the arguments are absurd. He often shoots out incidental humorous or satirical shafts”16. But his most important and extended method is that of allegory. The pigmy size of the Lilliputians symbolizes the littleness of mankind and their interests; the superior skill in rope-dancing which with them is the ground for political advancement, the political intrigues of real men; and the question whether eggs shall be broken on the big or the little end, which has embroiled Lilliput in a bloody war, both civil and foreign, the trivial causes of European conflicts. In Brobdingnag, on the other hand, the coarseness of mankind is exhibited by the magnifying process. Swift, like Defoe, generally increases the verisimilitude of his fictions and his ironies by careful accuracy in details, which is sometimes arithmetically genuine, sometimes only a hoax. In Lilliput all the dimensions are scientifically computed on a scale one-twelfth as large as that of man; in Brobdingnag, by an exact reversal, everything is twelve times greater than among men. But the long list of technical nautical terms, which seem to make a spirited narrative at the beginning of the second of Gulliver's voyages, is merely an incoherent hodge-podge.
Swift, then, is the greatest of English satirists and the only one who as a satirist claims large attention in a brief general survey of English literature. He is one of the most powerfully intellectual of all English writers, and the clear force of his work is admirable; but being first a man of affairs and only secondarily a man of letters, he stands only on the outskirts of real literature. In his character the elements were greatly mingled, and in our final judgment of him there must be combined something of disgust, something of admiration, and not a little of sympathy and pity.
Gulliver's function as a measuring stick is metonymic: he comes from the British world--ostensibly the land of the Real--and so the British reader feels he can be used to establish differences between the Real and the fantasy worlds he visits. This process reflects the ideological construction of the British Subject in the Colonial period. The aspect of the observed that can be measured by Gulliver serves to organize and name the whole, excluding whatever remains. In other words, just as a thermometer does not measure intelligence, the yardstick of rationality Gulliver finally brings down on the Yahoos fails to measure warmth, or any other human or British quality, if I can rightly call warmth a British quality. Gulliver's journey becomes synecdochic when he serves a role in the visited society and this role has a reciprocal effect on his own character; he no longer can be said to function as a constant or impartial measure. His trustworthiness as narrator is undermined and his representations become opaque or fall under suspect. This blow to representation brings the grotesque into play. As Gulliver changes scenes, the multiplicity of perspectives forces an ironic mode on the reader, in which the grotesque gains destabilizing power.
“Although Gulliver is a bold adventurer who visits a multitude of strange lands, it is difficult to regard him as truly heroic. Even well before his slide into misanthropy at the end of the book, he simply does not show the stuff of which grand heroes are made. He is not cowardly—on the contrary, he undergoes the unnerving experiences of nearly being devoured by a giant rat, taken captive by pirates, shipwrecked on faraway shores, sexually assaulted by an eleven-year-old girl, and shot in the face with poison arrows”18. Additionally, the isolation from humanity that he endures for sixteen years must be hard to bear, though Gulliver rarely talks about such matters. Yet despite the courage Gulliver shows throughout his voyages, his character lacks basic greatness. This impression could be due to the fact that he rarely shows his feelings, reveals his soul, or experiences great passions of any sort. But other literary adventurers, like Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey, seem heroic without being particularly open about their emotions.
“What seems most lacking in Gulliver is not courage or feelings, but drive. One modern critic has described Gulliver as possessing the smallest will in all of Western literature: he is simply devoid of a sense of mission, a goal that would make his wandering into a quest. Odysseus’s goal is to get home again, Aeneas’s goal in Virgil’s Aeneid is to found Rome, but Gulliver’s goal on his sea voyage is uncertain. He says that he needs to make some money after the failure of his business, but he rarely mentions finances throughout the work and indeed almost never even mentions home. He has no awareness of any greatness in what he is doing or what he is working toward. In short, he has no aspirations. When he leaves home on his travels for the first time, he gives no impression that he regards himself as undertaking a great endeavor or embarking on a thrilling new challenge”19.
We may also note Gulliver’s lack of ingenuity and savvy. Other great travelers, such as Odysseus, get themselves out of dangerous situations by exercising their wit and ability to trick others. Gulliver seems too dull for any battles of wit and too unimaginative to think up tricks, and thus he ends up being passive in most of the situations in which he finds himself. He is held captive several times throughout his voyages, but he is never once released through his own stratagems, relying instead on chance factors for his liberation. Once presented with a way out, he works hard to escape, as when he repairs the boat he finds that delivers him from Blefuscu, but he is never actively ingenious in attaining freedom. This example summarizes quite well Gulliver’s intelligence, which is factual and practical rather than imaginative or introspective. Gulliver's journey becomes synecdochic when he serves a role in the visited society and this role has a reciprocal effect on his own character; he no longer can be said to function as a constant or impartial measure. His trustworthiness as narrator is undermined and his representations become opaque or fall under suspect. This blow to representation brings the grotesque into play. As Gulliver changes scenes, the multiplicity of perspectives forces an ironic mode on the reader, in which the grotesque gains destabilizing power.
Gulliver’s narrative begins much like other travel records of his time. The description of his youth and education provides background knowledge, establishes Gulliver’s position in English society, and causes the novel to resemble true-life accounts of travels at sea published during Swift’s lifetime. Swift imitates the style of a standard travelogue throughout the novel to heighten the satire. Here he creates a set of expectations in our minds, namely a short-lived belief in the truth of Gulliver’s observations. Later in the novel, Swift uses the style of the travelogue to exaggerate the absurdity of the people and places with which Gulliver comes into contact. “A fantastical style—one that made no attempt to seem truthful, accurate, or traditional—would have weakened the satire by making it irrelevant, but the factual, reportorial style of Gulliver’s Travels does the opposite”20.
Gulliver is surprised to discover the Lilliputians but is not particularly shocked. This encounter is only the first of many in the novel in which we are asked to accept Gulliver’s extraordinary experiences as merely unusual.” Seeing the world through Gulliver’s eyes, we also adopt, for a moment, Gulliver’s view of the world. But at the same time, we can step back and recognize that the Lilliputians are nothing but a figment of Swift’s imagination”21. The distance between these two stances—the gullible Gulliver and the skeptical reader—is where the narrative’s multiple levels of meaning are created: on one level, we have a true-life story of adventure; on another, a purely fictional fairy tale; and on a third level, transcending the first two and closest to Swift’s original intention, a satirical critique of European pretensions to rationality and goodwill.
In the first voyage of Lilliput, he comes across tiny human beings, who are six inches high yet, so threatening and deceptive that Gulliver contemplates over their evil nature. The word 'Lilliput', when etymologically studied gives us the combined meaning of ‘little rustic’ or ‘little rascals’. Although big and mighty, Gulliver does services to the ungrateful king, much to the discomfort of Filmnap, the treasurer of the island. With his physical strength, Gulliver has the ability to crush and subdue the whole kingdom but he somehow controls his physical self since he suffers from mental torment for he is not able to understand the mentality of the Lilliputians, who, besides being manipulative and malignant in nature, condemn him even after he has been main instrument behind their victory in the battle against Blefescu, a neighboring island. Hence in the first part, Gulliver suffers from mental torment though he is physically powerful.
However, in the second voyage, that is, the voyage to Brobdingnag, Gulliver finds that he himself is a Lilliputian in the land of the giants. Here, he encounters all kinds of physical torment: A pumpkin, which is the size of a rock, is thrown at him; people use him as a toy. Finally, he finds himself at the king's court where, he innocently narrates the pathetic conditions of his country (political, religious, and social conditions of England.) On hearing this, the king scorns the socio-political proceedings in England. We must make a note that the word ‘Brobdingnag’ is a big word and so it signifies something large—implicating the generosity and the magnanimity of the Brobdingnagians. Gulliver himself is a Lilliputian since the king is cynical about his views on Gulliver’s hometown, just like the way Gulliver felt for the Lilliputians. Therefore, Brobdingnag becomes a land of physical torment for Gulliver. Mental torment, however, takes the back seat as Gulliver fails to get the insulting message from the king who has a scornful attitude towards Gulliver's homeland. At this point, it is better to make a note of the contrasts in the first two voyages.
In the third voyage, Gulliver comes across Laputa, the floating island, which is ruled by intellectuals such as scientists, mathematicians, political advisors and musicians—all geniuses who lack the sense of spirituality and morality. Idealistic in nature, the people of Laputa refuse to be practical for we find scientists trying to recycle human excretion back into food, politicians trying to solve problems by improbable ways. The most singular experience is the encounter with the immortals who lose physical strength as age progresses (death itself is much better, Gulliver feels.)The inhabitants of Laputa, who live in a world of illusion, indulge in the futility of speculation and of books. What really turns out to be their moment of glory—as they spend most of their time beating their brains about the improbable inventions—turns out to be their folly as they ignore the fact that their spouses are having an extra-marital affair. Therefore, they are indifferent to normal human relationships, and turn their heads towards science and politics. The Gulliver, who we see here, is just a silent spectator of the unusual happenings in Laputa. What Swift is trying to convey here is that ‘intellectuality’ is an obstacle to morality.
In the fourth voyage, we see a reversal of fortune, as the horses rule the land of Houyhnhnms, not the Yahoos—bestial creatures resembling man. Gulliver is surprised, and so are the horses when they come to know that they hail from contrasting backgrounds. The horses are so naïve that they ask him what is the meaning for ‘falsehood’. The horses lead a life of innocence, and they are synonymous with morality: Adultery, murder, and falsehood fail to exist in the land of the horses. Strongly moved by the good life of the Houyhnhnms, Gulliver scorns humanity and finally becomes an admiring friend of the horses. Even after having reluctantly returned to his hometown, in the end of the story, he buys two horses and is seen interacting with the horses, totally disregarding his family, social status and the society around him.
At the beginning of the novel, Gulliver is an everyman through whose eyes the reader sees the inhabitants of the places he visits. For most of the book, merely recounts his observations in deadpan mode. He appears to have no will or desires, but is led from land to land by fate. He gives his detailed descriptions without judgment, and without the capacity for reflection and distance that the reader possesses. He often fails to see the ludicrous, greedy, and morally depraved nature of the people around him, whereas this is all too clear to the reader. This gap between Gulliver's and the reader's perception of events leads to dramatic irony (a literary device in which the reader or audience of a work knows more than the character).
As a middle-of-the-road human being, Gulliver finds himself to be morally superior to the Lilliputians but morally inferior to the Brobdingnagians. In Brobdingnag, his weakness becomes clear. It is his pride in, and loyalty to, England, which leads him to lie to the Brobdingnagian king in order to paint his country in a favorable light.
As Gulliver's education progresses, he makes more direct judgments on the societies he visits, though at first these are understated. For example, in Part I, Chapter V, after the ministers have plotted to kill Gulliver in gruesome ways for trivial offenses, he notes for the first time that courts and ministers may not be perfect. By the end of his stay in Laputa, he is overtly despondent about the Laputans' shortcomings and the ruined society that they have sacrificed to theoretical thought.
Gulliver is somewhat more tranquil and less restless at the end of the story than he is at the beginning. In desiring first to stay with the Houyhnhnms, then to find an island on which he can live in exile, Gulliver shows that his adventures have taught him that a simple life, one without the complexities and weaknesses of human society, may be best. At the same time, his tranquility is superficial—lying not far below the surface is a deep distaste for humanity that is aroused as soon as the crew of Don Pedro de Mendez captures him. “From our point of view, after we have looked at the world through Gulliver’s eyes for much of the novel, Gulliver undergoes several interesting transformations: from the naive Englishman to the experienced but still open-minded world traveler of the first two voyages; then to the jaded island-hopper of the third voyage; and finally to the cynical, disillusioned, and somewhat insane misanthrope of the fourth voyage”22.
Gulliver's stay in the land of the Houyhnhnms marks the complete loss of his objectivity and innocence. He finds himself midway between the rationality of the Houyhnhnms and the bestiality of the Yahoos. So impressed is he by the Houyhnhnms and so disgusted is he by the Yahoos that he becomes obsessed with trying to be like the Houyhnhnms, when he physically resembles the Yahoos far more. Finally, he gives way to an insanity in which he seems to believe himself to be a Houyhnhnm and rejects even the best of humankind because he believes them to be Yahoos. At the end of the book, Gulliver is still trying to re-acclimatize to life among humans. While condemning his fellow men for their pride, he fails to see that he himself has fallen victim to pride in his disgust at humanity. As a result, the reader ceases to look through his eyes to judge others and begins to look at him and judge him. He, too, becomes an object of satire.
Most of the time during his travels, Gulliver feels isolated from the societies he visits. He does not fit in anywhere, and even during his brief returns to England, he expresses no wish to stay and leaves as quickly as he can. This has led to some critics calling Gulliver's Travels the first novel of modern alienation.
The country of the Houyhnhnms is unique among the nations Gullliver visits because of its subjugation of the individual to the good of society as a whole, which leads to an orderly and well-run nation. The price is that there is little room for human-style individuality. Nobody can become attached to their children because they may be assigned to another family that has a shortage of children; mates are chosen not by individual preference, but for the good of the race; servanthood is genetically mandated. Only during his stay with the Houyhnhnms does Gulliver wish to assimilate into society. His attempts are ridiculous, leading to his taking on the gait and speech patterns of his horse hosts. More seriously, they are doomed to fail: the Houyhnhnms decide that he is not one of them and expel him. The only society to which Gulliver wishes to belong will not have him. Swift raises questions about the conflict between the individual and society, but does not resolve them.
In many ways, Gulliver’s role as a generic human is more important than any personal opinions or abilities he may have. Fate and circumstance conspire to lead him from place to place, while he never really asserts his own desires. By minimizing the importance of Gulliver as a specific person, Swift puts the focus on the social satire itself. At the same time, Gulliver himself becomes more and more a subject of satire as the story progresses. At the beginning, he is a standard issue European adventurer; by the end, he has become a misanthrope who totally rejects human society. It is in the fourth voyage that Gulliver becomes more than simply a pair of eyes through which we see a series of unusual societies. He is, instead, a jaded adventurer who has seen human follies—particularly that of pride—at their most extreme, and as a result has descended into what looks like, and probably is, a kind of madness.
After the researching of the novel “Gulliver’s Travels” by Johnatan Swift we can assert that the changing hypostases really took place in the behavior and morality of the protagonist. We were interested to see how the protagonist has changed both spiritually and physically. The physical changes lie on surface, we know that the main character changed his size, but to track the spiritual changes was more difficult. We can draw a conclusion that the travels of the main character have changed his inner world completely.
While some enjoy Gulliver's Travels as a diversionary story, it is clear that it was not written primarily for this purpose. There are many concepts and ideas within the novel that were clearly written to challenge and trouble. Swift accomplishes his aim very well through his use of humor and comments on society.
Swift vexed people with Gulliver's Travels by designing his imaginary societies to parallel his own. He thus created conflict between those with more power and those with less, the latter wanting change and the former wanting to prevent change. This may have troubled those who did not question the status quo, who may agree with the powerful people because they are happy with their life. However, Gulliver's Travels is a sincere comment on Swift's society that would garner both respect and ridicule. This novel is a very interesting political analysis and satire of various governments and societies. The author compares each land to the government and society of his native England.
We could notice that the author, through his descriptions, contemplates different types of governments. Many of the governments he describes are depictions of governments in existence at the time in which the author lived. The author's own discontent with the English government and European society is the focus of this novel. Through fanciful imaginings, the author depicts chaotic and ridiculous lands that closely resemble the European countries of his time. Many of the conflicts in the novel correspond to actual events. Numerous characters actually represent members of European society.
So it’s a well-known fact that the author uses this novel as a satire and criticism of English and European governments and societies. It is through this novel that the Author expresses his own political beliefs by favorable or disparaging descriptions of the different lands. Towards the conclusion of the novel, the Author describes his total rejection of European Government and society. He longs for an ideal country to exist like the one he had seen in the land of the Houyhnhnms. Swift was just one of the many Europeans who was unhappy with the political and social environment in Europe. This discontent was what caused many Europeans to leave and come to the New World, to America. This dissatisfaction is what founded our country today. The Land of the Houyhnhnms is what many of the unhappy Europeans hoped the New World to be.
The novel “Gulliver’s Travels” has made a profound impression on readers as well as on whole cultures. From its earliest days till nowadays, “Gulliver’s Travels” has received universal acclaim as a masterpiece of satirical prose.
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Karl Frederick R. A Reader's Guide to the Development of the English Novel in the 18th Century. - L., 1975. 8. Lawlor, John. "The Evolution of Gulliver's Character." Essays and Studies. London: The English Association, 1956. 69-73.
9. H. L. Mencken, Introduction, Gulliver's Travels. New York 1925
10. Swift, Deane, 1707-1783. An Essay upon the Life, Writings, and Character, of Dr. Jonathan Swift. 1755. New York: Garland Pub., 1974.
11. Smith, Raymond J., Jr. "The `Character' of Lemuel Gulliver." Tennessee Studies in Literature 10 (1965).
12. Zimmerman, Lester F. "Lemuel Gulliver." Weathers, Jonathan Swift: Tercentenary Essays (1967) 61-73.
13. Watt Ian. The Rise of the Novel. - 1957.
14. Дубашинский И.А. «Путешествия Гулливера» Джонатан Свифт, Москва 1969
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16. Урнов Д.М. Робинзон и Гулливер: Судьба двух литературных героев. - М., 1973.
1 Crecicovschi Ecaterina” The Anthology of English Literature 17th-18th centuries” Chisinau, 2004 ( p193)
2 The Tories were the political ancestors of the present-day Conservatives; the Whigs of the Liberals.
3 The subject of Wooten’s fine poem
4 Crecicovschi Ecaterina” The Anthology of English Literature 17th-18th centuries” Chisinau, 2004 ( p.168)
5 Karl Frederick R. A Reader's Guide to the Development of the English Novel in the 18th Century. - L., 1975.
6 Watt Ian. The Rise of the Novel. - 1957.
7 Уотт Айэн. Происхождение романа (1957). Пер. О.Ю. Анцыфаровой // Вестник МГУ. Серия 9. Филология. - 2001. - № 3. - С.147.
8 Sir Leslie Stephen
1707-1783. An Essay upon the Life, Writings, and
Character, of Dr. Jonathan Swift. 1755.
Swiftiana 14. New York: Garland Pub., 1974.
10 Johnson, Samuel "Swift." The Lives of the English Poets: and a criticism on their works. Dublin, Whitestone, Williams, Colles, Wilson 1779-81.( p.155)
11 Forster, John. The Life of Jonathan Swift. London: J. Murray, 1875. (p.48)
12 Nokes, David. Jonathan Swift, a Hypocrite Reversed: A Critical Biography. New York: Oxford, 1985.
13 Craik, Henry. LIFE OF SWIFT. Swift: Selections From His Works. Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1892.
14 H. L. Mencken, Introduction, Gulliver's Travels. New York, 1925
15 Bullitt, John M. Jonathan Swift and the Anatomy of Satire: A Study of Satiric Technique. Cambridge 1953.
16 Johnson, Samuel "Swift." The Lives of the English Poets: and a criticism on their works. Dublin, 1779-81.
Lawlor, John. "The Evolution of Gulliver's Character."
Essays and Studies.
18 Урнов Д.М. Робинзон и Гулливер: Судьба двух литературных героев. - М., 1973.
19 Smith, Raymond J., Jr. "The `Character' of Lemuel Gulliver." Tennessee Studies in Literature 10 (1965).
20 Dennis Nigel. Swift and Defoe // Swift J. Gulliver's Travels. An Authoritative Text. - N.Y., 1970.
21 Smith, Raymond J., Jr. "The `Character' of Lemuel Gulliver." Tennessee Studies in Literature 10 (1965).
22 Smith, Raymond J., Jr. "The `Character' of Lemuel Gulliver." Tennessee Studies in Literature 10 (1965).