Gulliver's Travels is political satire in the form of an adventure novel. Swift creates several fantasy worlds to which his character, Lemuel Gulliver, travels, and where he learns that English institutions, such as the government and social structure, are not necessarily ideal.
Swift subscribed to the pre-Enlightenment, Protestant idea that man is by nature sinful, having fallen from perfection in the Garden of Eden. While man is a rational animal, his rationality is not always used for good. Therefore, one should not hold up rationality as the greatest human quality, as many Enlightenment thinkers did. It is the human condition, Swift felt, to sin: to be deceitful, cruel, selfish, materialistic, vain, foolish, and otherwise flawed. Rationality and institutions such as governments, churches, and social structures (schools, for example) exist to rein in man's tendency to sin, to keep him in line.
These beliefs of Swift's are evident throughout Gulliver's Travels. Naive Gulliver encounters his physical and moral inferiors, the Lilliputians, and sees that they have well-thought-out but illogical and even unethical ideas about justice, schooling children, and choosing political leaders. On the contrary, Gulliver's physical and moral superiors, the Brobdingnagians, do not suffer war or strife because their political and social structures are far superior to England's. Part III is a scathing indictment of how...
(The entire section is 1179 words.)
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