Many authors write books about events, their lives and their environment, and their corrupt government. One satirical author who wrote a novel about living in a corrupt society is Jonathan Swift who wrote Gulliver’s Travels. The places the protagonist had visited reflected on the author’s English government. The life of the author will be shown similar to this book because of the way he lived. Jonathan Swift was well educated and graduated from Trinity College in Dublin in English literature. He not only had a life in literature but also had a life in politics. This experience helped him write many satirical essays and novels against England and Ireland. His first political job was to work for the remarkable statesman, Sir William Temple from 1689 to 1699. During that time, he also became a minister for the church of England in 1694. After Sir William Temple died in 1699, Swift became a pastor of a small Protestant parish in Laracor, Ireland. He was ordained in 1694. His skill as a writer was greatly appreciated within the church and was well known in Dublin. If one were to divide Swift’s career into “periods,” the years 1710-14 would naturally fall into the “Middle Period.”(Cook, V) In 1710, he became a powerful supporter of the Tory government in England. Through many of Swift’s articles and pamphlets in defense, he became one of the most effective public relations men any English administration ever had. The Tories saw how good Swift’s literature was and hired him as an editor for their journal, The Examiner. His political power ended when a new government came to power.

This was the Whig party. The Tory government and the Whig party were against each other and shared different views like the republicans and democrats in the U.S. The last stage of Swift’s life shows him transformed from an English into a Irish favorite, and this almost in spite of himself.(Swift, XIV) He was betrayed and exiled to Ireland by his friends. The unbearable lifestyle he endured while living in Ireland forced him to write his brilliant satirical essay, A Modest Proposal. This essay suggested that the people of Ireland should use their children for a cash crop. In the book Gulliver’s Travels, the author reflects his life on the main character to Prove a point, mankind are savages. All that was necessary was that he take on a deliberate persona in the form some self-deceived enthusiast. (Cook, pg.92) The protagonist of the story Lemieux Gulliver, went on many voyages and left his wife and child back in England for months at a time. The first voyage he went on in the book was to Lilliput. All of the places he went to were by accident. It was either he was shipwrecked or his boat was taken over by pirates. In Lilliput, he fell asleep ashore and woke up tied down by the barbaric Lilliputians. These natives are only three inches high and look exactly like humans but smaller. Swift satirizes our b*stial selves and use them as these Lilllputians. These Lilliputians are pure evil and very corrupt. Their government system is similar to ours. Their leader is an Emperor who has all but some power over their country. He also has advisors who seem to influence the Emperor in all his decisions even if he did not agree. This system is similar to our government and congress having equal power to the president. In order for a person to gain a seat in congress or hold a certain political position in our society, they have to be elected by the people. In Lilliput, the people gain their political power in the strangest and silliest way. The emperor holds a stick out in front of the person and in order for the person to get the highest position possible, they must be able to jump over or crawl under the stick depending how the emperor positions it. The emperor may raise the stick and lower it for whomever he wants. He may pick favorites and make it easier for them to get over the stick. The Lilliputians were in the middle of a civil war with a neighboring island called Blefescu. The war was caused due to a misunderstanding in the past. The Lilliputian and Blefescudian ancestors were eating breakfast and they broke their eggs on different ends. They got into an argument about which end is better to break and split up. The Lilliputians called themselves the Big Enders and the Blefescudians called themselves the Little Enders. Gulliver’s stay was short because they did not trust him and was plotting against his life. He then fled to Blefescu, which was an enemy of the Lilliputians. They soon rejected him and he started on his journey home. The second place Gulliver arrives is Brobdingnag. These natives are about ten stories high and looked like humans because of their facial features. The farmer that found Gulliver brought him to the queen. The Brobdingnagian government is similar to the communistic government. In this society, there is no currency because everyone gets the same amount of food and luxuries.

The queen explained how her government was based on equality and Gulliver explained on how his government was based on conquering other and in constant war with other countries with simple problems that can be solved with talking it out. The queen heard of his horrid government and was appalled at what he was saying. The Brobdingnagian society is not similar because it is morally advanced, but they have all of our incomplete values. The queen eventually exiles him and he leaves for England. Unfortunately he never makes it to England but gets his ship taken over by pirates. He is given a small boat and is left to die. Some natives of a flying island called Laputa picked up Gulliver. The natives of this island were very peculiar. The elders would stare at the sun and think deep thoughts. They would ask questions like, “How’s the sun?”. They were usually in so much of deep thought that they would be unconscious. There is a man always following them and tapping them trying to bring them back to reality. Swift is satirizing the scientists with their wild theories and unproven facts. There were many of these people around his time that made many theories that turned out to be false. The last place Gulliver went to was The Land of the Houynhnms. The natives of this island were horses. They ruled the island and all of the other inhabitants on it. The other inhabitants were Yahoos. These yahoos were humans who were uncivilized and were supposed to satirize our b*stial sides of us. The Houynhnms had the reasoning and language of our human race. They did not know what love was, so they did not know what was jealousy, rage, anger, insanity, and many other emotions that love may harvest. The Houynhnms and the Yahoos were being satirized because those two species put together were called the H. sapiens species. Given man’s instinctive corrupt nature and the downward drift it fostered, social change of almost any sort was apt to be worse. (Cook,120) Gulliver was accepted in to the Houynhnm society even though he resembled a yahoo. He learned to speak their language and learned their ways. As Gulliver explains to his Houyhnhnm master about England, noble families in England nearly always die out after three generations, “unless the wives take care to provide a healthy father among her neighbors, or domesticks, in order to improve and continue the Breed.” (Cook,124) He was eventually ostracized from them because he was a threat to them for being a yahoo. Eventually, Gulliver returned home and shared his stories with every one. They marked him as mad and he lived the rest of is days in an insane asylum. Many authors like Jonathan Swift reflect their lives in their books. This book was a good example in my opinion of an author reflecting his life and his society which may be fair or corrupt. All authors should reflect their lives in their books so that the reader will know more about them.

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3 Comments on "Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels: Summary & Analysis"

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Roxanne D.
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Good post! I Appreciate the information!

Nic
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Sir William Temple died in 1699, not 1669. That is all.

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