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Discuss Swift's vigour and terse satire in Gulliver's Travels.
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High School Teacher
One of the many aspects of Swift's satire in this work is the way that concepts such as colonisation and utopia are presented. The many different worlds that Gulliver discovers on his travels are meant to satirically present the themes of colonisiation and utopia, which were of much interest at the time, as indeed they remain of interest (albeit in different ways) today. Consider, for example, the way in which Gulliver apologises for not claiming the lands he visited for England in Part IV Chapter XII. He offers a very satirical presentation of colonisation:
They go on Shore to rob and plunder; they see an harmless People, are entertained with Kindness, they give the Country a new Name, they take formal Possession of it for the King, they set up a rotten Plank or a Stone for a Memorial, they murder two or three Dozen of the Natives, bring away a Couple more by Force for a Sample, return home, and get their Pardon. Here commences a New Dominion acquired with a Title by Divine Right... the Earth reeking with the Blood of its Inhabitants.
What is fascinating about this presentation of colonisation is how radical it would have been for Swift's time. He argues that it is nothing more than a criminal activity sanctioned by the state who deliberately exploit other peoples for their own benefit. Swift employs a typical satirical strategy of introducing something without naming it and then going on to name it in a different way from what we are expecting as readers, thus challenging our assumptions and thinking. In particular, the last phrase, in which colonisation is described as "the Earth reeking with the Blood of its Inhabitants," is one that is particularly revealing in terms of how Swift satirically presents colonisation. Swift's satire is thus terse and vigorous in the way that it forces his readers to examine their own assumptions and views, and hopefully to begin to change them.
Posted by accessteacher on August 22, 2013 at 6:46 AM (Answer #2)
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