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How does Swift's depiction of the Brobdingnagians reflect on ordinary humans like his...

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inkydog | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 28, 2010 at 2:32 AM via web

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How does Swift's depiction of the Brobdingnagians reflect on ordinary humans like his readership and us?

As a general question, what do you think the point of a fiction like Swift's might be? What is accomplished by so many strange comparisons between creatures of different size and shape?

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted September 28, 2010 at 9:07 PM (Answer #1)

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In Book 2 of "Gulliver's Travels", Gulliver lands in the land of the Brobdingnags.  The Brobs are 12 times larger than Gulliver (conversely, the Lilliputians of Book 1 were 12 times smaller).  The Brobs are seen as level-headed people driven by reason and logic.  Gulliver notes how plain their buildings are, how they lack grandeur, but are purely functional.  Their language, also, is for function, not for beauty, having only a limited number of words.  They cannot conceive of warfare or lying.  Despite some of these qualities, which seem very good, Gulliver sees the Brobs as dull people who lack beauty and creativity.  Since he is so little compared to the people, he sees all their physical faults as gross and disgusting abberations.  Swift uses Gulliver's time in the land of the Brobs to show the weaknesses of humans - we engage in battles constantly, we lie, we are selfish, etc. - but to also show how colorless life could be without creativity and imagination.  He also uses the size of the Brobs to show the ugliness underneath most of humankind.

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