Gulliver’s Journey as a Symbolic Work
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was an author, journalist, and political activist. He is best known for his satirical novel Gulliver’s Journey and his satirical essay on the Irish famine, “A Modest Proposal.” ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ is a book of fantasy, satire and political allegory, highly appreciated by all ages. He wrote Gulliver’s Travels in 1725 and it was published in 1726. The book was a great success throughout the British Empire and earned the author’s qualifications as a writer and commentator of high quality and reputation. In this book, the journey of Gulliver, a surgeon on a merchant ship, is made to four imaginary countries. So the book is divided into four parts. His first trip is to Lilliput, whose inhabitants are about six inches tall. His second visit is to Brobdingnag, the land of the giants. His third visit is to the Laputa and Legedo Islands, inhabited by philosophers and scientists, keeping a love for music and mathematics. His last visit is to the land of the Honyhnhnms and Yahoos. They are rational and civilized horses, and the Yahoos are irrational and bestial human beings, completely unclean.
Before discussing the symbols in his work, ‘Gulliver’s Journey’, we should know something about the literary term ‘symbol’. The word “Symbol” is derived from the late Latin word “Symbolum” which means symbol, sign or emblem. In fact, it is the adornment of literature. The author uses it to honestly expose to the readers all the hidden things or the philosophy of work, since they cannot have difficulties to be understood. If such a thing happened, the work would not be interesting or useful to represent the time. It is clear that Jonathan Swift has used symbols to convey his ideas to readers making it easier with his help. Taking all things into account, we can say that a symbol is something that represents something else. In Gulliver’s Travels, everything means something else because it is written for the purpose of criticizing contemporary philosophies and customs. Most of the people in this book represent a historical figure or idea.
Let’s examine the symbols used in his work, Gulliver’s Journey ‘.
In the first book, Swift recounts Gulliver’s visit to the Lilliputians, the six-inch inhabitants. They represent the symbol of the extreme pride of humanity. The author represents the race ironically. He finds that they are small creatures with small minds, but they are the bloodline of gossip and conspiracy; despite this, they are considered large. Gulliver falls under the spell of his boastfulness and is rendered credulous by his threats of punishment, although the race has no real physical power over him. Gulliver learns more about Lilliputian culture and the vast size difference between him and the breed. It is an explicit satire of the British government. Gulliver discovers that Lilliputian government officials are chosen for their ability to dance with strings, which is recognized as arbitrary and ridiculous. It symbolizes the political designation system of England which is arbitrary. The difference in their sizes symbolizes the importance of physical power. Gulliver may crush the Lilliputians by walking carelessly, but they do not realize their own insignificance that symbolizes their narrow-mindedness. They keep Gulliver tied down, believing they can control him. Swift symbolizes humanity’s empty claim to power and meaning.
Swift is very careful in the case of his satire and the use of symbols. The articles signed by Gulliver to win his freedom are in a formal and conceited language that symbolizes a meaningless and contradictory piece of paper, because Gulliver is the symbol of great strength and power. You can violate all links for your own safety. The history of the conflict between Lilliput and Blefuscu is ridiculous. High heels and low heels symbolize the Whigs and Tories of English politics. Liliput and Blefuscu symbolize England and France. The violent conflict between the Big Endians and the Little Endians symbolizes the Protestant Reformation and centuries of warfare between Catholics and Protestants. So European history is like a series of brutal wars for wanton and arbitrary disagreements. The conflict “how a person chooses to break an egg” is symbolic of foolishness and triviality. It is ridiculous and unreasonable to conclude that there is no right or wrong way to worship. Swift suggests that the Christian Bible can be interpreted in more than one way. It is ridiculous that people fight over how to interpret it when one is not sure that their interpretation is correct and others are wrong.
The Lilliputian emperor is the symbol of tyranny, cruelty and corruption, and he is obsessed with ceremony displaying an unchanging symbol of bad government. It is also a scathing satire on George I, the King of England (1714-1727), for much of Swift’s career. He does not admire the king. The Lilliputian Empress represents Queen Anne, who blocked Swift’s advancement in the Church of England, having been offended by some of his earlier satires. Gulliver’s urination on his coin represents Swift’s work ‘A Tale of a Tub’. The empress’s disgust at Gulliver’s urination is similar to Queen Anne’s criticism of Swift’s work and her efforts to limit her prospects in the Church of England. Actually, his urination symbolizes his ability to control the Lilliputians. Illustrates the importance of physical power. Gulliver disobeys the emperor’s order to destroy Blefuscu’s fleet and signs the feelings of his responsibility towards all beings. Gulliver is in a position to change Lilliputian society forever. There is an army reference between Liliput and Blefuscu that symbolizes their patriotic glories with the proud march of the armies. The Lilliputian emperor’s request to Gulliver to serve as a kind of makeshift Arc de Triomphe for troops to pass through is a pathetic reminder that his grand parade is utterly silly. The war with Blefuscu is the symbol of the absurd that arises from wounded vanity. Thus, the Lilliputians symbolize lost human pride and indicate Gulliver’s inability to correctly diagnose it.
In Book II (Part II), Jonathan Swift recounts Gulliver’s visit to the island of the giants. Here their walking is not a symbol of danger for the Borbdingnagians as it was on their visit to Lilliput because the situation is the other way around. The Borbdingnagians represent English customs. After a brief stint as a work fanatic, Gulliver is rescued by the king and queen, and lives a life of considerable comfort at court. He spends much of his time learning the language and talking to the king about life in England. The king emerges as a just, merciful, very understanding and humane ruler. Borbdingnagians symbolize the private, personal, and physical side of human beings, when closely examined. In Lilliputians, Gulliver symbolized divine power, but here he is the symbol of the slave and the puppet to perform various tricks for paying spectators. Borbdingnagians do not symbolize negative human characteristics. The behavior of the Borbdingnagians is different and appears to be more civilized than Gulliver. There is the queen’s goodwill towards Gulliver and the views of common sense. Their slavery is virtual symbolizing the fundamental humanity of the Borbdingnagians. Therefore, it is similar to Europeans who are happy to take a quick leap when the opportunity arises. It is a golden puppet in your hands, and you are given a comfortable crib with protection from rats.
In this book, we find a dwarf who is unable to obtain the power that usually accompanies large physical size, but obtains a distinctive character that symbolizes the politics of those who attempt to achieve power not through physical force but through of its distinctive character which is exactly immoral and ordinary. Women and their flaws symbolize imperfection examined through close enough scrutiny. Gulliver’s microscopic view of flies and flesh symbolizes the discovery of the microscope. At the end of the 17th century there was the first publication of books that contained enlarged images. Such microscopic views knew levels of complexity and failure. In their eyes, the diminutive size of Europeans corresponds to their moral weakness. Gulliver’s gunpowder supply represents the imperfection of the British. The refusal of the king symbolizes this race more humane than the other races. It means that, in this society, vices are minimized as much as possible. Although this race has achieved a great moral achievement, it is not perfect yet.
Gulliver’s third visit is to Lupta showing Swift’s attack on science and abstract knowledge. Laputans are the symbol of the stupidity of theoretical knowledge irrelevant to human life. During his voyage, his ship was attacked by pirates. He spoke to them in Dutch, but later his exposition of more merciful pagans than Christians symbolized Swift’s religious belief. In this visit, power is implemented not through physical size but through technology. The floating island is both a formidable weapon and an allegorical image that represents the symbol of the government and the people. On this visit, he narrates the rigid devotion of the Laputans to abstract theory, language, architecture and geography that symbolizes non-humanity. Scientists are dedicated to extracting the sun’s rays from the cucumber and turning the excrement into food and the ice into gunpowder. The architect undertook to design a way of building houses from the roof down that symbolizes impossibility and purposelessness, representing the scientific society founded in 1660. Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke, and Isaac Newton were all members of the Royal Society. His main task was to use the new techniques of science to improve the craft, etc. The theorist ruined a country by forcing his people to follow his new and totally useless methods.
Gulliver’s escape to Glubbdubdrib symbolizes Swift’s attempt to challenge the standards of abstract learning. In general, the ancient Greeks and Romans were understood to be truly virtuous, while, as Europeans, they were somewhat degenerate. Apart from that, the Struldburgs of Luggnagg symbolize human desires. They seek eternal life and the main benefits of old age. Indeed, the wisdom of old age can be used to help humanity, but the Struldburg immortals become more judgmental and selfish. The immense sadness of the struldbrugs and the emptiness of Gulliver’s desire to acquire riches symbolize Swift’s condemnation of such self-absorbed goals as the state of small minds irrelevant to good society.
Jonathan Swift narrates Gulliver’s fourth journey to Honyhnhnms, which represents an ideal of rational existence. Here, man is supposed to be yahoo and is subject to animals. Represents that animals are more civilized or a model citizen. Your society is safe from crime, poverty, disagreement, and unhappiness. They are unaware of passion, joy, and ecstatic love. The Honyhnhnms appeal to reason more than any sacred writing as the criterion for proper action. They do not use force but only strong exhortation. All of Gulliver’s pain suggests that they had a greater impact on him than any other society he has ever visited.
In fact, it is a bitter criticism of human beings. Jonathan Swift chose humanity on all three visits, but here he chose animals. In fact, the Honyhnhnms represent the mistaken and ostentatious arrogance of man in the power of reason. The fact that Gulliver builds a canoe by sewing to collect the skins of the Yahoos to escape the island represents his quick cynicism for humanity. If, in addition, we discuss it, it is the main weapon of the cynic or satirist to improve humanity because every satirist is a memory reformer.
In fact, it is the view of his book in a nutshell. Your work needs more attention and more time. It hides a great treasure from the relevant period. It is recognized that his criticism is quick and harsh, but he has not used to exploit human beings but to correct them by highlighting their follies.