From Swift to Dickens Essay

Submitted By englishlover1002
Words: 1114
Pages: 5

Upon beginning my reading of Gulliver’s Travels, I was absolutely miserable. I despised it for unknown reasons and was hardy able to get through one paragraph without reminding myself how much I disliked the material that laid in front of me. However, mush to my own surprise, I did a complete 180 sometime during my reading of Part I. I have since been enjoying reading this novel. But what’s more, I have formed a relationship with this novel by becoming engaged and intrigued (but more to come later on the reader-text relationship that comprises a novel).
I think it is essential refer to use the following wise words of Charles Dickens as a sort of guiding principle when considering human nature: “Subdue your appetites, my dears, and you've conquered human nature” (p. 43).
Though I am not certain whether or not this novel was composed with the goal of providing exploration of/into human nature, it definitely serves to do so. I believe this because political and social structure, as well as culture, indirectly serves to reveal an exuberant amount about man, the nature of man, and the tendencies of man. That being said, I have come to greatly appreciate Gulliver’s Travels thus far (up to Part III). The themes include, but are not limited to: dishonesty, deceit, integrity (or lack thereof), the practice(s) of morality and ethics. Collaboratively, Swift uses these themes to construct a broad, yet very clear, look at human nature. Swift also makes use of political satire to further clarify his sentiments to the reader.
Jonathan Swift clearly had a bone to pick regarding the social structure of his day. Politics, education, social hierarchy, you name it! The following quote (regarding the Brobdingnagian queen and her relationship with her dwarf, from Gulliver’s point of view) stood out to me for a few reasons:
“Nothing angered and mortified me so much as the queen's dwarf; who being of the lowest stature that was ever in that country (for I verily think he was not full thirty feet high), became so insolent at seeing a creature so much beneath him, that he would always affect to swagger and look big as he passed by me in the queen's antechamber, while I was standing on some Table talking with the Lords or Ladies of the court, and he seldom failed of a smart word or two upon my Littleness; against which I could only revenge my self by calling him Brother, challenging him to wrestle, and such Repartees as are usual in the Mouths of Court Pages “ (p. 90).
So, a few things about this quote…
1. Through Gulliver, the reader is able to gain insight into the society presented in the novel, as well as into the real-life society experienced by Swift. By “real-life society”, I simply mean the unjust and corrupt social and political circumstances experiences by people, such as Jonathan Swift, in England in the 1700’s.
2. Furthermore, Swift uses satire to reach the reader in this part of the text (amongst others). Ironically, people are always picking on physically smaller individuals, more than often only for the purpose for the self-need of feeling bigger and better (even if they are exactly the opposite). Apply this concept to social structure, culture, politics, etc. and interpret as you wish. Also, consider what Charles Dickens wrote The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby: “It will be very generally found that those who will sneer habitually at human nature, and affect to despise it, are among its worst and least pleasant samples” (p. 540).
3. The first thing that came comes to my mind when I consider this quote is Tyrion Lannister from the TV series (and book series) Game of Thrones. Tyrion is a dwarf, and serves as a scapegoat in his family. Sadly, Tyrion is constantly overlooked (both literally and figuratively), underestimated, and regarded as relatively unimportant. Though he is very small, he proves himself to be sharp, acute, and overall highly intelligent. In fact, I would argue that he is far more…