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Swifts Perception Of Mankind

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Swift’s Perception of Mankind
In Gulliver’s Travel’s, a classic work of high adventure and political satire first published in 1726, author Jonathan Swift contemplates both the fanciful imaginings of world travel and the oftentimes governmental structures of 18th century Europe. The novel can be both enjoyed and understood on two levels: on the surface it is a story of intrigue and adventure, but the underlying theme of the novel is one of political analysis and social criticism. As the title character wanders through various foreign lands, he sees different forms and styles of government in action; forms of government similar to those found in England and continental Europe during Swift’s own life and career. Swift’s distrust and dislike of the ruling authority in his own native England is not symbolized throughout the reading, and an overall rejection of European government and society is an important thematic element of the novel. Swift – through Gulliver – seems to long for the Utopian society found in the land of the Houyhnhnms. Gulliver’s Travels – whether read as a simple story of fantasy or a intellectual social critique – stands the test of time and remains an important and highly readable piece of literature almost 300 years after it was written.
Gulliver’s Travels leaves the reader with the strong impression that Swift was disappointed with mankind in general, as is evidenced by his critiques of the human species. Nevertheless, he seems hopeful about the possible future redemption of humanity, and holds himself up as the model example of the reasonable man. The first two voyages to Lilliput and Brobdingnag focus primarily on the negative aspects of English government and society, while the third and fourth voyages to Laputa and the Houyhnhnms are more general critiques of basic human nature. Much of Swift’s social critique is seen in implicit symbolism, most obviously in the descriptions of ...

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