This is a course blog for the members of EH236 at the University of South Alabama, Spring 2006.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Is Gulliver's Travels a misanthropic work?

A Man of Reason ?

I am not going to pretend to know whether Swift hated humankind or not but by reading Gulliver’s Travels and other works by him I do not feel that he does. I do feel that he gets frustrated with things humans do and he comes up with very creative, sometimes warped, satires to get his point across to as many as possible. If a person despised humankind one would think that, he/she would go about his/her way and not waste any energy on trying to make a group of people better and fix situations that are immoral, so I do not believe that Gulliver’s Travels is a misanthropic work or that Swift has a hatred or scornfulness towards humankind.

Swift is someone, to me, that was probably more intelligent and wise than most others in his time. He seems to look at every situation with an open mind and clear head. It is hard for a person that does not just go along with society to agree with and be okay with every perverse or corrupt thing that occurs around them. People like this tend to notice things that are not “quite right” more than most because they will reason through something rather than simply agree because someone over them said so. It is hard for someone of this nature to sit back and let corrupt things continue without doing anything to help with the situation. Swift had the opportunity to do this in his writing. He seems to take the person out of his narratives as much as possible in the sense that the average person that reads Gulliver’s Travels will not see himself or herself as a Yahoo until the end of the tale, which should then cause the reader to contemplate his message.

Swift seems to be trying to get the message of “world peace” out to his readers. He describes a society that knows no falsehoods and cannot fathom fighting over things the way “Yahoo’s”; the human race does. He writes about the irrational things humans do to others of their race or kind and paints a picture of how the world would be if ALL humans could be completely rational in ALL their dealings.

Some might say in chapter 11 Swift writes as though he detests humankind. Gulliver’s actions are cruel and irrational towards humankind when he returns home. I feel that Swift is just describing change. For a person to make as dramatic of a change as he feels should take place among the human race is very difficult and would not be a smooth transition. His or her old ways will show through every now and then. Maybe Swift is referring to an individual making this change, and how hard it would be to hang on to what is virtuous and great in the midst of everything that is not. Just as Gulliver came back into society trying to maintain the qualities in his life that he learned from the Houyhnhnm’s in a society where it is difficult to continue with these virtues.

Julie Adkison


Blogger ccmdude said...

Your essay was pretty good. It seems to deal with the writer, Swift, more so than with his work. Hence, the lack of evidence from the story. Other than that, good job.

12:49 PM  
Blogger diabolicalkoala said...

I do agree with what you are saying about Swift. However the question was about the story and not necessarily about Swift's personal beliefs. So I must conclude by saying perhaps we should view the work for what it states about mankind and european society at the time and not the personal beleifs or motives of our author. I did notice reference to the story however I thought it a bit vague, maybe more specifics next time would help to support your' idea a little more. As for the writing itself I thought it was good.

6:52 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home