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Gulliver's Travels - Satire in Lilliput

Uploaded by Quest4Glory on Jul 05, 2004

Generations of schoolchildren raised on the first Book of "Gulliver's Travels" have loved it as a delightful visit to a fantasy kingdom full of creatures they can relate to-little creatures, like themselves. Few casual readers look deeply enough to recognize the satire just below the surface. But Jonathan Swift was one of the great satirists of his or any other age, and "Gulliver's Travels" is surely the apex of his art.

"Gulliver's Travels" tells the story of Lemuel Gulliver, a ship's surgeon who has a number of rather extraordinary adventures, comprising four sections or "Books." In Book I, his ship is blown off course and Gulliver is shipwrecked. He wakes up flat on his back on the shore, and discovers that he cannot move; he has been bound to the earth by thousands of tiny crisscrossing threads. He soon discovers that his captors are tiny men about six inches high, natives of the land of Lilliput. He is released from his prone position only to be confined in a ruined temple by ninety-one tiny but unbreakable chains. In spite of his predicament, Gulliver is at first impressed by the intelligence and organizational abilities of the Lilliputians.

In this section, Swift introduces us to the essential conflict of Book I: the naive, ordinary, but compassionate "Everyman" at the mercy of an army of people with "small minds". Because they are technologically adept, Gulliver does not yet see how small-minded the Lilliputians are.

In Chapter II, the Emperor of Lilliput arrives to take a look at the "giant", and Gulliver is equally impressed by the Emperor and his courtiers. They are handsome and richly dressed, and the Emperor attempts to speak to Gulliver civilly (although they are unable to understand one another). The Emperor decrees that every morning Gulliver is to be delivered "six beeves, forty sheep, and other victuals," along with as much bread and wine as he needs, his basic needs are to be attended to, and six scholars are to teach Gulliver the language of his new compatriots.

Again, in this chapter, Gulliver is won over by the fact that the Lilliputians are well-dressed and articulate (despite the fact that they speak a language he cannot understand). He is still held captive by these people, both metaphorically, as in being entranced by them, and literally. It is in this chapter that Gulliver first asks to be freed and is refused.

As Chapter III...

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Uploaded by:   Quest4Glory

Date:   07/05/2004

Category:   Literature

Length:   5 pages (1,231 words)

Views:   23360

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