SwiftHis first satires
Battle of Books in which he supported Temple’s defence of classics and mocked the modern scholarship.
A tale of tub, about the contrasts between Catholics and dissenters
When he was priest, he denounced how many injustices that Ireland suffered.
His masterpiece was Gulliver’s travels and A Modest Proposal. Swift’s target was not only to England, but it was directed to Irish too, who seemed too passive in their misfortune.
Swift can be alternatively a misanthrope, a monster or a lover of mankind. It’s clear he didn’t share the general optimism of his age.
He thought that reason was an instrument that must be used properly. He instead believed more on common sense of people.
Gulliver’s travels plotBook 1: He sails from Bristol and shipwrecked into a south pacific shore and he falls asleep. The inhabitants (Lilliputians) are only six inches tall and carried his huge body to their capital.
Book 2: He shipwrecks in a place Swift located in Alaska. The inhabitants (Brobdingnag) are giants twelve times taller than Gulliver. During this period he has trampled nearly to death: he must escape from rats as big as lions and wasps as big as birds. He is sent to the royal palace and becomes King’s pet. After a while, his cage is lifted up by a huge bird and dropped into the ocean.
Book 3: He meets in the island of laputa absent-minded astronomers and scientists. Their experiments consist in extracting sunbeams from cucumbers or turning humans excrement into food.
Book 4: He meets some horses endowed with reason (Houyhnhnms) and a bad species of animals resembling human being. He is ashamed of his similarity with the Yahoos and he builds a canoe and comes back to England, where he re-sees his wife and his children. Then he goes living into stable, because he cannot stand human smell.
CommentSwift showed the life of these inhabitants as an uncorrupted life, in which they followed their natural instincts. Then he compared this model of natural life with the contemporary society which loses common sense and falls into a state of corruption, showed in the ridiculous experiments leaded by the mad scientists, who stand the modern man which used too intensively the reason.
The inventory (Book 1)In this pass Gulliver was supervised by two little officers. The Lilliputians stand for the systematic use of reason opposed to the big body of Gulliver, which stand for instinctivity.
Swift satirized man’s pettiness and littleness.
Language reforms (book 3)Gulliver meets three professors which want to create a new language form constituted by monosyllabic word, exclusively nouns, deleting all the verb and the preposition. It implies the advantage on preventing the lungs from corrosion due to the speech. Women and common people opposed the scientist.
Swift satirized the intensive reason of scientist and believed more on common sense. A big satire of the absurdities of the scientist is upon the wafer, which is so disgusting that the student discharge it before it could operate.
Swift was concerned with the aberration of human reason.