Gulliver’s Travels the Big and Little

The elements we see in common with our readings, is the evoked emotions. There is a coxiness that is expressed in Swifts writing similar to that of “The Lady’s Dressing Room” through Strephon and Gulliver that has an heir or being above the current company or situation. This act of looking outside in has a zest of satire that illustrates in a languages that is conveys an un obvious insult or scorn attitude.

We see when Gulliver becomes initially ‘shipwrecked’ and alone in his navigation in Lilliput. The first thing he mentions upon his survival, in a state of exhaustion and with the aid of some Brandy, is that he comes across these little people, Gulliver discusses, the are as big as a middle finger and I keep trying to image this massive amount of little people, able to fix in a pocket, taking over this tall man and it feels like the book becomes a sci-fi in an instant. Swift has strong imagination and leaves a vivid scene for the reader to play along with the sense of humor and satire. Their language is never completely understood. “I likewise felt several slender Ligatures across my Body, from my armpits to my Thighs, I could only look upwards…..I felt something alive moving on my Left leg, which advancing forward over my Breast, came almost to my Chin; when bending my Eyes downwards as much as I could, I perceived it to be a human Creature not six Inches high, with a Bow and Arrow in his hands, and a Quiver at his Back.” (Swift P.17) Then there is the food they feed him. From the food the tiny people feed him to their ability or inability to hold him, there is slight satire in Swifts writing. Gulliver has shown respect of them and their culture as he processes in thought about his options to over take the tiny people. He states he just wants his Liberty. Swift seems to utilize size to mean a great level of human sensibility.

On his travels in Brobdingnag “When I attended the King after my Recovery, to return to him Thanks for his Favours, he was pleased to rally me a good deal upon this Adventure. He asked me what my Thoughts and Spectulations were while I lay in the Monkey’s Paw, how I liked the Victuals he gave me, his manner of Feeding, and whether the fresh Air on the Roof had sharpened my Stomach. He desired to know what I would have done upon such an Occasion in my own Country. I told his Majesty, that in Europe we had no Monkeys, except such as were brought for Curiosities from other places, and so small, that I could deal with a dozen of them together, if they presumed to attack me. And as for that monstrous Animal with whom I was so lately engaged, (it was indeed as large as an Elephant) If my Fears had suffered me to think so far as to make use of my Hanger…..This I delivered in a firm Tone, like a Person who was jealous lest his Courage should be called in question…..This made me reflect how vain an attempt it is for a man to endeavor doing himself Honour among those who are out of Degree of Equality or Comparison with him.” (Swift P102-103) There are two words that come about in this passage. Jealous and vain. These are the sentiments Swift uses regarding Gulliver in his quest to show what he has done or would do for his liberty.

This book is quite an interesting read, details are plentiful. I am now looking at the cover of the book with a new insight.


3 thoughts on “Gulliver’s Travels the Big and Little

  1. I liked how you picked up on the light satire that can be found throughout this story and how you connected it to The Lady’s Dressing Room. Both of the main characters view themselves, in one way or the other, as being “better” or “above” the rest of the population. We saw Strephon as bias against a certain gender (women) but in Gulliver’s Travels we see that he doesn’t judge based on gender but on size. You say that Swift uses size to mean a great deal of sensibility? I thought this was interesting, as I read through the stories I thought size to represent something more along the lines of a hierarchy. Where the larger you are the more power you have. As in many stories we see people gain power but then as they gain this power their ego starts to inflate. This inflation causes a separation, a sense that one is better than another based on a physical attribute, which in this case is size. However, we can still find it in today’s society right? Where do you think this “inflation” can be seen today?

    wc 188

  2. Interesting insights from both of you! I’m struck by the discussion of gender that emerges: What are we to make of the Brodbignagian women — they seem to be rendered grotesq

  3. Interesting insights from both of you! I’m struck by the discussion of gender that emerges: What are we to make of the Brodbignagian women — they seem to be rendered grotesque due to their size, yet they are also sexualized to an extent. For instance, consider the moment that Gulliver is in the dressing room of the women. He is passes around from female to female; he’s dropped down the fronts of their dresses and nearly smothered by their giant bosoms. This moment seems very reminiscent of “the Lady’s Dressing Room” — Gulliver is getting access to a very private moment. Also, much like Strephon, upon finding these personal details Gulliver is anything but excited or sexually stimulated by his findings. As we consider size and power, I wonder what we might also make of the way that privateness, or secrets might relate to power — is there a relationship between controlling how much some one knows about you and how much power you have?

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