From your reading of Gulliver’s Travels, what impression have you formed of Swift’s attitude towards mankind? Would you describe him as a misanthrope? Discuss.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that much of this is going to be based on personal opinion.  The writing of this prompt would have to be based on the reader's impressions of Swift and the idea of what is involved in being a misanthropic individual.  This is not something where there will be an absolute answer because much of it is based on personal experience.  I would say that anytime satire is being read, there is a definite tendency to see misanthropic ideas present.  The notion of satire as being a barrier between what is and what is composed might be where the misanthropy lies. Yet, I think that in Swift's case, one has to be a bit careful.  It is obvious that Swift does hold out hope that humanity can be better and that individuals are capable of improvement.  I don't think he constructs his satire to condemn individuals what they are but rather composes it in light of what can be.  Swift's involvement with Tory politics and his zealous support of British occupation of Ireland might prove that he does not condemn social orders to a misanthropic point of view.  Yet, as stated earlier, I think that much of this is contingent on what an individual believes after reading his work and determining the context of being a misanthrope.

Read the study guide:
Gulliver's Travels

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question