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11. Consider Gulliver when he appeared very big in the land of Lilliput. In many ways he was grotesque. Yet finally it was the Lilliputians, fine and small though they are, who proved to truly be grotesque. Think now of the Brobdingnagians. Physically they are repulsive to Gulliver, as grotesque as he was in Lilliput. Yet it is the giants compared to Gulliver who are refined.
Swift accomplishes two things here. The Lilliputians are literally small;
they are also figuratively small (small-minded and narrow of spirit).
To the eye they're attractive, yet to the mind's eye they're not. The
Brobdingnagians are literally and figuratively big (large in their sympathies,
big-hearted, open-minded). To the eye they're not pleasant to look at,
yet how they please the mind's eye!
Think as well of the ways in which Gulliver when he feels (and is) so small, tries to make himself bigger. To cite the most obvious example, he tries to impress the king with the powers of gunpowder. Consider, too, how awful it is for Gulliver to be small, how shameful he begins to feel, how violent and disgusted and vengeful.
12. This question is linked to Question 11, dealing with notions of "big" and "little."
Think about the tiny Lilliputians and their grandiose ceremonies, their imposing bureaucracy, and the craftiness with which they exact their revenge. Think, too, about Gulliver in Part II, and the repeated attacks to his self-image and feelings of security he's often injured, made fun of by the dwarf, hired out as a freak, loved more as a puppy than a man, etc. In answering this question deal with both the evidences of pride and the factors that lessen our vulnerability to the sin of pride.
Keep in mind that in Part IV Gulliver is lost because he's totally isolated. He's neither a Yahoo nor a Houyhnhnm; in other words, he retreats from being human, part animal/part man. The Yahoos, you remember, are savage at least partly because they're cut off from their Yahoo society.
13. Religion has various functions in this novel. In Lilliput it is a means to attain power and an excuse by which to dominate even enslave-others. Since you know that the Lilliputians stand for the Whigs, Swift's enemies, you can deduce Swift's opinion on religion as handled by the Lilliputians.
In Part III, where tradition has no place, religion has no value. The closest they come here is astrology, if you consider religion to be primarily mystical. If you consider religion as a constant, guiding force in a person's life, then in Part III abstract science constitutes religion.
The Houyhnhnms have no need of religion. There is nothing they question, nothing that awes them, nothing that frightens them. Swift evidently finds this an impossibly sterile way to be alive.
It's important to consider that Gulliver is lost because he doesn't understand what Swift thinks is the function of religion. For Swift, religion helps man to improve himself spiritually while he is on earth. Gulliver misunderstands Swift's presenting him with the Yahoos. Gulliver thinks that people are Yahoos; Swift's message is that Yahoos are what we must strive to not become.
14. You know already that the Enlightenment was an age that exalted the powers of reason, that believed that man was essentially good (and therefore needful of the redemption prescribed by traditional religion), that valued above all else that which was new. The Enlightenment was the beginning of the modern age.
Think of Swift and his satire in Part III against the Royal Society. Think, too, of his sympathetic Count Munodi. Examine carefully the limits of reason as they appear in Part IV.
15. For starters, Swift is dealing with human nature, the abiding weaknesses and strengths of people. We certainly haven't solved the problems of government, so Swift's work is far from dated on that score.
Just as Swift was on the brink of the modern age, we are new to the nuclear age. Gunpowder was the worst weapon on earth during Swift's lifetime; today we have nuclear bombs. What do you think Swift would have thought of the A-bomb? What do you think he'd have thought of our government subsidizing billions of dollars of research into nuclear arms? And of many of our brightest young scientists seeking to be involved in this research?