Human being hypostases in "Gulliver’s travels" by Johnatan Swift

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t range of the satires which make the greater part of Swift's work is supported in part by variety of satiric method. Sometimes he pours out a savage direct attack. Sometimes, in a long ironical statement, he says exactly the opposite of what he really means to suggest. Sometimes he uses apparently logical reasoning where either, as in 'A Modest Proposal,' the proposition, or, as in the 'Argument Against Abolishing Christianity,' the arguments are absurd. He often shoots out incidental humorous or satirical shafts”. But his most important and extended method is that of allegory. The pigmy size of the Lilliputians symbolizes the littleness of mankind and their interests; the superior skill in rope-dancing which with them is the ground for political advancement, the political intrigues of real men; and the question whether eggs shall be broken on the big or the little end, which has embroiled Lilliput in a bloody war, both civil and foreign, the trivial causes of European conflicts. In Brobdingnag, on the other hand, the coarseness of mankind is exhibited by the magnifying process. Swift, like Defoe, generally increases the verisimilitude of his fictions and his ironies by careful accuracy in details, which is sometimes arithmetically genuine, sometimes only a hoax. In Lilliput all the dimensions are scientifically computed on a scale one-twelfth as large as that of man; in Brobdingnag, by an exact reversal, everything is twelve times greater than among men. But the long list of technical nautical terms, which seem to make a spirited narrative at the beginning of the second of Gulliver's voyages, is merely an incoherent hodge-podge.

Swift, then, is the greatest of English satirists and the only one who as a satirist claims large attention in a brief general survey of English literature. He is one of the most powerfully intellectual of all English writers, and the clear force of his work is admirable; but being first a man of affairs and only secondarily a man of letters, he stands only on the outskirts of real literature. In his character the elements were greatly mingled, and in our final judgment of him there must be combined something of disgust, something of admiration, and not a little of sympathy and pity.

II. The human being hypostases as presented in “Gullivers Travels”

 

2.1.The protagonist presentation

 

Lemuel Gulliver is an unremarkable and unimaginative man from middle-class England. He is morally upright and honest but, as his name suggests, somewhat gullible. As he himself is honest, he naively assumes that everyone else is as honest, and hence believes what he is told. He is an everyman through whose eyes the reader sees and judges the people he encounters. Gulliver, as the name suggests, is someone who is gullible. This gullible traveler has written a travelogue, which consists of four different voyages: Each voyage appears to be entirely different from the other three voyages. This is one of the reasons why Swift has divided the voyages into four parts. Gulliver represents an everyman, a middle-class Englishman who is fundamentally decent and well intentioned. In the course of his travels, he becomes less tolerant and more judgmental of the nations he visits and of his fellow human beings.

“Gulliver is gullible, as his name suggests. For example, he misses the obvious ways in which the Lilliputians exploit him. While he is quite adept at navigational calculations and the humdrum details of seafaring, he is far less able to reflect on himself or his nation in any profoundly critical way”. Traveling to such different countries and returning to England in between each voyage, he seems poised to make some great anthropological speculations about cultural differences around the world, about how societies are similar despite their variations or different despite their similarities. But, frustratingly, Gulliver gives us nothing of the sort. He provides us only with literal facts and narrative events, never with any generalizing or philosophizing. He is a self-hating, self-proclaimed Yahoo at the end, announcing his misanthropy quite loudly, but even this attitude is difficult to accept as the moral of the story. Gulliver is not a figure with whom we identify but, rather, part of the array of personalities and behaviors about which we must make judgments.

Gulliver's function as a measuring stick is metonymic: he comes from the British world--ostensibly the land of the Real--and so the British reader feels he can be used to establish differences between the Real and the fantasy worlds he visits. This process reflects the ideological construction of the British Subject in the Colonial period. The aspect of the observed that can be measured by Gulliver serves to organize and name the whole, excluding whatever remains. In other words, just as a thermometer does not measure intelligence, the yardstick of rationality Gulliver finally brings down on the Yahoos fails to measure warmth, or any other human or British quality, if I can rightly call warmth a British quality. Gulliver's journey becomes synecdochic when he serves a role in the visited society and this role has a reciprocal effect on his own character; he no longer can be said to function as a constant or impartial measure. His trustworthiness as narrator is undermined and his representations become opaque or fall under suspect. This blow to representation brings the grotesque into play. As Gulliver changes scenes, the multiplicity of perspectives forces an ironic mode on the reader, in which the grotesque gains destabilizing power.

“Although Gulliver is a bold adventurer who visits a multitude of strange lands, it is difficult to regard him as truly heroic. Even well before his slide into misanthropy at the end of the book, he simply does not show the stuff of which grand heroes are made. He is not cowardlyon the contrary, he undergoes the unnerving experiences of nearly being devoured by a giant rat, taken captive by pirates, shipwrecked on faraway shores, sexually assaulted by an eleven-year-old girl, and shot in the face with poison arrows”. Additionally, the isolation from humanity that he endures for sixteen years must be hard to bear, though Gulliver rarely talks about such matters. Yet despite the courage Gulliver shows throughout his voyages, his character lacks basic greatness. This impression could be due to the fact that he rarely shows his feelings, reveals his soul, or experiences great passions of any sort. But other literary adventurers, like Odysseus in Homers Odyssey, seem heroic without being particularly open about their emotions.

“What seems most lacking in Gulliver is not courage or feelings, but drive. One modern critic has described Gulliver as possessing the smallest will in all of Western literature: he is simply devoid of a sense of mission, a goal that would make his wandering into a quest. Odysseuss goal is to get home again, Aeneass goal in Virgils Aeneid is to found Rome, but Gullivers goal on his sea voyage is uncertain. He says that he needs to make some money after the failure of his business, but he rarely mentions finances throughout the work and indeed almost never even mentions home. He has no awareness of any greatness in what he is doing or what he is working toward. In short, he has no aspirations. When he leaves home on his travels for the first time, he gives no impression that he regards himself as undertaking a great endeavor or embarking on a thrilling new challenge”.

We may also note Gullivers lack of ingenuity and savvy. Other great travelers, such as Odysseus, get themselves out of dangerous situations by exercising their wit and ability to trick others. Gulliver seems too dull for any battles of wit and too unimaginative to think up tricks, and thus he ends up being passive in most of the situations in which he finds himself. He is held captive several times throughout his voyages, but he is never once released through his own stratagems, relying instead on chance factors for his liberation. Once presented with a way out, he works hard to escape, as when he repairs the boat he finds that delivers him from Blefuscu, but he is never actively ingenious in attaining freedom. This example summarizes quite well Gullivers intelligence, which is factual and practical rather than imaginative or introspective. Gulliver's journey becomes synecdochic when he serves a role in the visited society and this role has a reciprocal effect on his own character; he no longer can be said to function as a constant or impartial measure. His trustworthiness as narrator is undermined and his representations become opaque or fall under suspect. This blow to representation brings the grotesque into play. As Gulliver changes scenes, the multiplicity of perspectives forces an ironic mode on the reader, in which the grotesque gains destabilizing power.

Gullivers narrative begins much like other travel records of his time. The description of his youth and education provides background knowledge, establishes Gullivers position in English society, and causes the novel to resemble true-life accounts of travels at sea published during Swifts lifetime. Swift imitates the style of a standard travelogue throughout the novel to heighten the satire. Here he creates a set of expectations in our minds, namely a short-lived belief in the truth of Gullivers observations. Later in the novel, Swift uses the style of the travelogue to exaggerate the absurdity of the people and places with which Gulliver comes into contact. “A fantastical styleone that made no attempt to seem truthful, accurate, or traditionalwould have weakened the satire by making it irrelevant, but the factual, reportorial style of Gullivers Travels does the opposite”.

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