Jonathan Swift was Irish. The Irish can't stand the English, they have always hated the English. The Irish novelists have played an important role in the English literature. He was a satirical writer and he was a priest. He studied in Ireland but he moved to London because London was much more lively than Dublin. He lived in the house of a very rich man, Sir William Temple, a Whig, and He wrote many pamphlets in defense of the Irish. He got back to Ireland where He was made Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral. He spent the last years of his life in a sort of mental lethargy. Swift wrote "A Modest Proposal" because in Ireland there was the famine and people were starving. So He proposed to give the Irish children to the rich as food in exchange of money. It was naturally a shocked proposal just to underline the problem.
It is a novel in four books. It was published anonymously because of the dangerous allusions to contemporary politics It contained. It is divided in four travels and in each of the travels Swift underline a vice. The main character, Gulliver, is a ship's surgean who makes a series of voyages into several remote regions of the world. It is made up of four different voyages by sea and in each voyage he wants to highlight a human vice that he wants to expose.
-1 BOOK: in the first book Gulliver meets the Lilliputians, people who are six-inch tall. They are cruel, aggressive with a great thirst for power. It is a clear reference to the thirst for power of politicians of Swift's time. He wants o expose human wickedness and meanness.
-2 BOOK: in the second book He meets the giants who are very generous and wise at the point that they refuse Gulliver when he speaks of his country because they consider it barbarous. Here Swift exposes his disgust for the human body.
- 3 BOOK: G. lands in Daputa, a flying island moved by a great magnet. The inhabitants have an eye turned inside and They live in badly built house. Swift satires modern scientists and philosophers because They are presumptuous, They make Theories and They are inclining to be able to solve all of mankind problems but they can't because They are completely absent minded.
- 4 BOOK: G. finds in the country of the intelligent speaking horses who are wise. The country is also inhabited by the Yahoos, monstrous creatures that resemble men because they look like apes. The can't speak, they are cruel and filthy. The horses are very intelligent and they have a disgusting attitude towards the Yahoos and Gulliver.
In their opinion Gulliver is like the Yahoos because They represent the degraded humanity. Gulliver decides to stay with the horses but they can't tolerate him so he has to leave. This is the worst condemnation of the human kind. Swift's satire is referred to Robert Walpole and the corrupted political men.
1) a travel book: It is a travel book because there are a lot of geographical details. Swift pointed out the names of the places, He was very precise in defining, in naming the latitude and longitude, he even drew the original maps because Swift wanted the reader to think the book was real. So the need for realism we met with Defoe can be found also in this case.
2) a childen's book
3) a utopian book: It's a utopian book because It refers to a story set in non existing worlds. The word utopia has a positive connotation it refers to both a non existing place and an ideal place. This ideal place is found by Gulliver in the fourth book among the speaking horses.
The real Utopian book is the fourth book because the society ruled by horses is an ideal society and so It is the real Utopian society. Swift thinks that no ideal society can be found among human beings so an ideal society can be found among animals.
4) a satirical book: It is a satirical book because It is a ferocious satire on human vices. In the first book Swift wants to expose human wickedness and meanness. In the second book He exposes his disgust for the human body. In the third book Swift satires modern scientists and philosophers because They are presumptuous, They make theories and They are in charge of ruling with their theories but they are completely absent minded. In the forth book We can find the worst condemnation of the human kind.
At the beginning of the story Gulliver is described as a typical European, well educated. He takes care of his family and runs his business prudently. So the transformation which takes place in Gulliver can not be ascribed to his temper. When Gulliver gets back home after the first voyage he doesn't question his society. It is only when He goes on in the second and third voyage that He questions the system of his society. But these doubts are only temporary; his critical awareness becomes deeper but he still defend his country. When He comes back home from the fourth voyage his transformation is complete and he can't take part in European society and his friends and family.
Gulliver alienates himself from humans because he is completely disgusted by them. In European literature any voyage is the voyage of the soul. The journey is a metaphor of a spiritual evolution, a metaphor of the journey of the soul.