A TO Z Literary Principles from History of English Literature: Note 33

Short notes on History of English Literature: Gulliver’s Travels 

A Set of 26 Objective Questions & Answers

  1. It is Jonathan Swift’s most comprehensive and brilliantly worked out satire on man and his civilization.
  1. Lemuel Gulliver, the ship’s doctor on the ‘Antelope’, is ship-wrecked.
  1. He manages to make for the shore and he finds himself in the land of Lilliputs- humans only six inches tall.
  2.  He exposes the infinite littleness and absurd pretensions of man.
  3. Book has four parts: In Part I: A journey to Lilliput, a land where the people are twelve times smaller than in England.
  1. In Part II: A journey to Brobdingnag, a land where every living being is twelve times larger than in England.
  2. In Part III:   Gulliver visits the islands of Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdribb, and Japan.
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  1. In Part IV: Gulliver journeys to the land of the Houyhnhnms, rational horses, and the Yahoos, appallingly irrational humans.
  1. He becomes the pigmy and the same moral is driven out.
  1. In the third voyage to laputa and other islands, Swift attacks philosophers, projectors and inventors all who waste their energies in pursuit of fantastic things.
  1. The fourth voyage is to the land of Houynhnhm, a country governed by intelligent horses.
  1. In the land of the Houyhnhnms, humans are the unintelligent servants of automobiles. The flying island legends have a connection to the aboriginal Canadian Cree myths of creation.
  1.  In Gulliver and his views we find on colonialism, manifest destiny, and the white man’s burden.
  1. Knowledge of English politics at the time Swift was writing will make several of the characters more understandable, but is not essential for enjoyment of Gulliver’s Travels as a fantasy.
  1. Terms: “Big-Endians”, “Little-Endians”, “Big-Endians”, “Little-Endians.”
  1. The characters: Lemuel Gulliver; Emperor of Blefuscu, Brobdingnagian etc.
  1. Swift’s tale is not simply is a charming children’s fantasy, it is a tricky question whether or not it is better to introduce it to children or not.
  1. Gulliver legendsThe Borrowers by Mary Norton; H. G. Wells’s Food of the Gods; Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and its sequel Honey, I Blew Up the Baby; “Hundred Worlds” literary development of the first Star Trek television series by producer Gene Roddenberry.
  1. The most delightful of children’s book turns out to be one of the bitterest satires on mankind ever described. Swift suggest that man should be governed by reason, but the lower elements of his nature debase what is fine within him.
  1. The irony is devastating and the style is powerful, lucid and colloquial.
  1. If a modern equivalent to Gulliver’s Travels were written today, every nation would be satirized, instead of England and France.
  1. Notably, Gulliver’s journey to the land of the Houyhnhnms, in which humans are the unintelligent servants of automobiles.
  2. It is Swift’s political satire in his description of Lilliput effective in terms of Victorian as well as modern times.
  1. Gulliver’s Travels is suitable as children’s literature as well as adults.
  2. Gulliver’s Travels is written in the style of travelogue.
  3. In Gulliver’s Travels we cannot deny the fact that here is an imaginary world of nowhere. 

Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert, 
      2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature
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