Satire on a Nation Jonathan Swifts, Gullivers Travels satirically relatesbodily functions and physical attributes to social issues during Englandspowerful rule of Europe. Through out the story we find many relations betweenbodily features and British and European society. Swift uses this tone ofmockery to explain to his reader the importance of many different topics duringthis time of European rule.
Swift feels that the body and their functions relateto political as well as the ration of a society. Swifts fascination with thebody comes from its unproblematic undertone which gives his audiencerecognizable parallelism to many issues such as political change and scientificinnovation. Gullivers first adventure takes place in Lilliput. Gulliver swimsto a foreign shore after his boat and rowboat capsize due to a fierce storm.
Washed upon the shore, Gulliver finds himself tied to the grass surrounded bylittle bodied people called the Lilliputians. The Lilliputians stood no morethan six inches high. During this time Swift recognized that England was also akind of six inch being that had great influence in Europe. Swift wroteGullivers Travels during a time when Europe was the worlds most dominantand influential force.
England, despite its small size, had the potential todefeat any nation that might try to conquer them. Swift relates this phenomenonto the small stature of the Lilliputians. They stood a mere six inches high buthad the power to siege the mammoth Gulliver. The capability of a nationconsisting of miniature people, who are able to capture someone ten-times theirsize can be seen as reinforcing the capability of a small nation, such asEngland, becoming and remaining a great power. Even though this is true, Swiftentices a condescending tone to Gullivers portrayal of the smallLilliputians, who easily fit into the hands of Gulliver, yet still manage tothreaten his life. Even though the Lilliputians are piteously small inGullivers eyes, they do not see themselves the same way.
To themselves, theLilliputians feel they are normal and Gulliver remains the outlandish giant. Theunexpected infringement of giant Gulliver into the Lilliputians well-developedsociety reminds the European society, that size and strength are alwaysrelative, and there is no way for Europe to be certain that a Gulliver-likegiant, might not arrive and conquer them at any moment. This encounter, betweenGulliver and the Lilliputians would put Europes confidence in its power injeopardy. Swift made sure that this message got across to humble the society ofEngland. In chapter three we see the advance of Gulliver in the Lilliputianssociety. During the process of integrating Gulliver finds that their culture isbased around trivial issues.
These trivial issues can be looked at as subsequentto their small stature. Gulliver finds that their government officials arechosen by rope dancing. To Gulliver and the reader these practices areridiculous and arbitrary, but to the Lilliputians who do not need extravagantthings because of their size, see these practices as normal. Swift uses thisscene to satire the British government at this time. The British government alsoelected their ministers in a trivial manner.
In order to receive freedom fromthe Lilliputians, Gulliver must help them in battle. Gulliver ‘s agreement tothe terms provided in his contract to stay on the island for his freedom camenot from exceeding force from the Lilliputians, for Gulliver could crush theirentire city with his colossus body size and weight compared to the Lilliputians. The Lilliputians were so secure in their laws and rules, where they felt theirlaws could even rule this great bodily giant with them. Noticeably the audiencesees that Gulliver can easily crush the tiny Lilliputians, but he decides out ofthe kindness of his heart not to forcefully become free. Once this great bodyinquires his freedom, there will be no way for these small humans to thrusttheir laws upon him. Trying to control outside forces were also flaws thatEurope processed at this time.
We again see how Gulliver feels that land iscontrol by people and not land controlling itself. When the audience sees thatEurope remains controlled by human bodily egos, this makes his satire even moreconvincing and critical. In the next chapters, the Lilliputians let Gulliverreceive his freedom, at the same time they realize what kind of political powerthey can gain from the body size of Gulliver. Gulliver goes into battle with theLilliputians and destroys most of the Blefescan naval fleets, but not all ofthem. Gulliver