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Gulliver's Travels

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Q. 'I write for the noblest end, to inform and instruct mankind...' Analyze and critically comment on Gulliver's Travels in the light of this statement.

The above lines are from part 4 chapter 12 of Gulliver's Travels. Swift gives a ironic twist in the last chapter by showing Gulliver still reluctantly inhabiting his native land, still inveighing bitterly against the sin of pride and still hopelessly unaware that he is as guilty as those he scorns. Swift has issued complete and sensible instructions to us for the reform of evil, be it personal, political or societal. He has devastatingly persuaded us of the need to reform and he has assuage our confusion and embarrassment by witnessing the comic destruction of Gulliver. From swifts candid proclamation we get the real motive of Swift that prompted him to write a satirical book like Gulliver's Travels. Swift's attack is aimed at follies and foibles of mankind and in doing so he picks up human society, judiciary system and other government machinery as his target of satire. His association with political activities in England brought him close to some of his contemporary political leaders. As a result of which his assil often turns out to be personal, as in the case of Robert Walpole, Queen Anne etc.

In part I, the general satire revolves about man as a political animal: scheming and corrupt. It becomes clear that the island of Lilliput is England- as Blefuscu is France and that the emperor and his court have much in common with the king and court of England. Specifically such things as the Whig-Tory split are seen in the contest of low-heels and high-heels, the Protestant-Catholic controversy in the persecution of the big-Endians by the little-Endians, and the jacobite exile in France in reference to the big-Endians seeking refuge in Blefuscu. Part II generally satirizes man and his imperfections by placing Gulliver in a land of gentle, benevolent and almost prefect giants. In this man's ego should be quashed-and is. More particularly, Swift is able to satirize the guilty and inhumanity of wars, the perfidiousness of legal systems, the corruption that could be avoided by taking the Brobdingnagians as model of conduct. Part III shows the general satire attacking the abuse of reason, philosophy and history- all leading to a kind of madness when uncontrolled. The Grand Academy at Lagado is taken as a satire on the Royal Society in England. England comes under further denunciation when Swift pictures her as the flying island of Laputa, leading to crush the Irish upon their most tentative move towards independence. Part IV Swift ranges far and wide to satirize man in every conceivable way. Man becomes an object of scorn and ridicule. Deprived of reason and common sense, he is bestial, inhuman, savage and base. Yet he also becomes open to regeneration, since swift's picture of the cold, emotionless Houyhnhnms and their sterile utopia are not to be taken as the goal either. Swift here as elsewhere is satirizing the excesses of any point of view, advocating the middle road and showing that, while man is not always a rational animal, be should always be capable of acting rationally.

The moral intent of the book is all pervasive. By attacking the follies of man in general, he was stressing indirectly the values that everyone should cultivate. In the voyage to Lilliput, which was largely concerned with the English politics of the time, we have an exposure of infinite littleness and absurd pretensions of man. In the voyage to Brobdingnag , in which Lilliput becomes the pigmy the same moral is driven well home, while the contempt of the writer becomes more marked. In the voyage to Laputa, Swift scornfully attacks philosophers, inventors and others who waste their energies in the pursuit visionary and fantastic things. Finally, in the voyage to the Houyhnhnms, the satire becomes so bitter that Swift presents the whole mankind nothings better than lazy, deceitful and stupid animals worse than horses.

One of the intensions of Swift in Gulliver's Travels is a powerful plea for pacifism. The Lilliputians lust for war and conquest is held forth in ridiculous light. The Brobdingnagian king just cannot understand the rationale of a standing army in times of peace. Gulliver himself is subjected to ridicule by exposing his liking for war and his offer to help the king in making gunpowder. We have perhaps the greatest satire on the petty, mean and selfish causes of war in the passage where Gulliver explains to the master

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