Homework Help

What in Book 3, in Gulliver's Travels, is Jonathan Swift satirising? 

user profile pic

courtneyechilton | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted March 26, 2013 at 2:19 AM via web

dislike 1 like

What in Book 3, in Gulliver's Travels, is Jonathan Swift satirising? 

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 14, 2013 at 5:56 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

Swift turns his satirical gaze to a number of different subjects in the final section of this book, where Gulliver spends time with the Yahoos and Houyhnhnms, and becomes so taken with the Houyhnhnms and their ways that he struggles greatly to integrate into his normal world when he returns. One of the most interesting objects of satire in this final section of the book is England itself, and its colonial practices. This emerges when Gulliver seeks to justify why he did not claim any of the lands he visited for the crown. Initially he argues that the countries he visited were not worth conquering. However, he goes on to attack the very process of colonisation itself in the following quote:

...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.

In this quote, colonisation is presented as a practice that is only at heart a terrible activity based on "murder" and robbery condoned by the state is one that was deeply controversial for Swift's time. What is satirical about this presentation is the way that Swift employs one of his typical satirical techniques, as he describes colonisation without explaining what it is that he is talking about, allowing us as readers to form our own impressions in our mind, before revealing to us that he is talking about something else entirely, exposing our own assumptions and forcing us as readers to be challenged with his satire. In this quote, Swift achieves this with his presentation of the process of colonisation, satirising it and forcing his readers to see colonisation in a completely different light and in a much more negative fashion. 

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes