Jonathan Swift’s "Gulliver’s Travels" is a timeless creation: Is This Really a Children’s Book?


 “I found how the World had been misled by prostitute Writers, to ascribe the greatest Exploits in War to Cowards, the wisest Counsel to Fools, Sincerity to Flatterers, Roman Virtue to Betrayers of their Country, Piety to Atheists, Chastity to Sodomites, Truth to Informers.” Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels Part III

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is a timeless creation. George Orwell considered it to be one of the finest five works of world literature. Gulliver’s Travels resembles Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. But it is not merely an adventurous travel tale. It is more than that. The creator had some basic viewpoints about life. He makes it dear that he will advocate his unbiased view of life in the guise of some exciting story. The obvious source of attraction of the book is its rich humour. Read More Novel It is written in a technique of a science fiction. But the most striking feature of the tale is the satire inherent in the different situations of life. He worked very hard with this book not only to parody travel writing (Robinson Crusoe had just been published about the time that Swift began serious work on Gulliver’s Travels), and to satirize the politics of his age, but to point out human folly in many forms. In the original work Gulliver has undertaken four journeys. The interesting are the two— Gulliver’s journey to the land of Lilliput and to the land of Brobdingnag. Read More Novel Through these two journeys the narrator presents two contrasting views of life. He has seen humanity from two different angles. As a physically superior being he sees mankind as ridiculously small. Again, as an inferior human being he finds human race as ‘grotesquely’ large. Now, through these two different sets of experiences Gulliver’s character changes and progresses into wider shapes.

Gulliver in the land of Lilliput is a giant. He seems to be the lord of the land. He takes pity on others, diminutive in shape, size and strength. The tiny creatures look ridiculous to him. He is alone a match for thousands and thousands of their species. He is the master of all situations. 

Jonathan Swift
But the situation drastically changes with Gulliver’s arrival in the land of Brobdingnag. Here he is a Lilliput. The gigantic creatures begin to take pity on him. Gulliver is wise enough to adjust himself with these altered circumstances. He often feels bad when the giants criticize human beings of his shape and size. During his stay at Brobdingnag, he realizes how iffy man is with all his vanity about his own superiority. Read More Novel Often the idea of superiority in any field is but relative. Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we realize our exact power and strength. Naturally, the moral lesson we learn from this book is the necessity of tolerance. The writer’s moral purpose, if he has any, is that we must uphold the value of tolerance in order to live a balanced life.

The two journeys of Gulliver, in fact, seek to strike a balance between two contradictory situations. Those who can adjust themselves to the opposing views of life can lead a meaningful life. This may be a lesson we learn from this book. 

This is not really a children’s book, but it has been seen as a children’s story .Over time what was considered fit reading for children has changed, as Professor J. R. R. Tolkien observed. Most modern children’s and school editions of Gulliver’s Travels are edited in one way or another. Read More Novel For younger children, the tale is often retold in a simpler, modern idiom, and some episodes, sometimes the whole third and fourth books, are eliminated. School versions sometimes use Swift’s original text and include all four parts, but remove the elements considered inappropriate for young readers. As Swift said in Book IV of Gulliver’s Travels: “My principal Design was to inform, and not to amuse thee.”

Ref: Wikipedia, Microsoft Encarta


  1. It is beneficial to me. It displays a new aspect to understand classic literature.


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