prised to discover the Lilliputians but is not particularly shocked. This encounter is only the first of many in the novel in which we are asked to accept Gullivers extraordinary experiences as merely unusual.” Seeing the world through Gullivers eyes, we also adopt, for a moment, Gullivers view of the world. But at the same time, we can step back and recognize that the Lilliputians are nothing but a figment of Swifts imagination”. The distance between these two stancesthe gullible Gulliver and the skeptical readeris where the narratives multiple levels of meaning are created: on one level, we have a true-life story of adventure; on another, a purely fictional fairy tale; and on a third level, transcending the first two and closest to Swifts original intention, a satirical critique of European pretensions to rationality and goodwill.
In the first voyage of Lilliput, he comes across tiny human beings, who are six inches high yet, so threatening and deceptive that Gulliver contemplates over their evil nature. The word 'Lilliput', when etymologically studied gives us the combined meaning of little rustic or little rascals. Although big and mighty, Gulliver does services to the ungrateful king, much to the discomfort of Filmnap, the treasurer of the island. With his physical strength, Gulliver has the ability to crush and subdue the whole kingdom but he somehow controls his physical self since he suffers from mental torment for he is not able to understand the mentality of the Lilliputians, who, besides being manipulative and malignant in nature, condemn him even after he has been main instrument behind their victory in the battle against Blefescu, a neighboring island. Hence in the first part, Gulliver suffers from mental torment though he is physically powerful.
However, in the second voyage, that is, the voyage to Brobdingnag, Gulliver finds that he himself is a Lilliputian in the land of the giants. Here, he encounters all kinds of physical torment: A pumpkin, which is the size of a rock, is thrown at him; people use him as a toy. Finally, he finds himself at the king's court where, he innocently narrates the pathetic conditions of his country (political, religious, and social conditions of England.) On hearing this, the king scorns the socio-political proceedings in England. We must make a note that the word Brobdingnag is a big word and so it signifies something largeimplicating the generosity and the magnanimity of the Brobdingnagians. Gulliver himself is a Lilliputian since the king is cynical about his views on Gullivers hometown, just like the way Gulliver felt for the Lilliputians. Therefore, Brobdingnag becomes a land of physical torment for Gulliver. Mental torment, however, takes the back seat as Gulliver fails to get the insulting message from the king who has a scornful attitude towards Gulliver's homeland. At this point, it is better to make a note of the contrasts in the first two voyages.
In the third voyage, Gulliver comes across Laputa, the floating island, which is ruled by intellectuals such as scientists, mathematicians, political advisors and musiciansall geniuses who lack the sense of spirituality and morality. Idealistic in nature, the people of Laputa refuse to be practical for we find scientists trying to recycle human excretion back into food, politicians trying to solve problems by improbable ways. The most singular experience is the encounter with the immortals who lose physical strength as age progresses (death itself is much better, Gulliver feels.)The inhabitants of Laputa, who live in a world of illusion, indulge in the futility of speculation and of books. What really turns out to be their moment of gloryas they spend most of their time beating their brains about the improbable inventionsturns out to be their folly as they ignore the fact that their spouses are having an extra-marital affair. Therefore, they are indifferent to normal human relationships, and turn their heads towards science and politics. The Gulliver, who we see here, is just a silent spectator of the unusual happenings in Laputa. What Swift is trying to convey here is that intellectuality is an obstacle to morality.
In the fourth voyage, we see a reversal of fortune, as the horses rule the land of Houyhnhnms, not the Yahoosbestial creatures resembling man. Gulliver is surprised, and so are the horses when they come to know that they hail from contrasting backgrounds. The horses are so nave that they ask him what is the meaning for falsehood. The horses lead a life of innocence, and they are synonymous with morality: Adultery, murder, and falsehood fail to exist in the land of the horses. Strongly moved by the good life of the Houyhnhnms, Gulliver scorns humanity and finally becomes an admiring friend of the horses. Even after having reluctantly returned to his hometown, in the end of the story, he buys two horses and is seen interacting with the horses, totally disregarding his family, social status and the society around him.
At the beginning of the novel, Gulliver is an everyman through whose eyes the reader sees the inhabitants of the places he visits. For most of the book, merely recounts his observations in deadpan mode. He appears to have no will or desires, but is led from land to land by fate. He gives his detailed descriptions without judgment, and without the capacity for reflection and distance that the reader possesses. He often fails to see the ludicrous, greedy, and morally depraved nature of the people around him, whereas this is all too clear to the reader. This gap between Gulliver's and the reader's perception of events leads to dramatic irony (a literary device in which the reader or audience of a work knows more than the character).
As a middle-of-the-road human being, Gulliver finds himself to be morally superior to the Lilliputians but morally inferior to the Brobdingnagians. In Brobdingnag, his weakness becomes clear. It is his pride in, and loyalty to, England, which leads him to lie to the Brobdingnagian king in order to paint his country in a favorable light.
As Gulliver's education progresses, he makes more direct judgments on the societies he visits, though at first these are understated. For example, in Part I, Chapter V, after the ministers have plotted to kill Gulliver in gruesome ways for trivial offenses, he notes for the first time that courts and ministers may not be perfect. By the end of his stay in Laputa, he is overtly despondent about the Laputans' shortcomings and the ruined society that they have sacrificed to theoretical thought.
Gulliver is somewhat more tranquil and less restless at the end of the story than he is at the beginning. In desiring first to stay with the Houyhnhnms, then to find an island on which he can live in exile, Gulliver shows that his adventures have taught him that a simple life, one without the complexities and weaknesses of human society, may be best. At the same time, his tranquility is superficiallying not far below the surface is a deep distaste for humanity that is aroused as soon as the crew of Don Pedro de Mendez captures him. “From our point of view, after we have looked at the world through Gullivers eyes for much of the novel, Gulliver undergoes several interesting transformations: from the naive Englishman to the experienced but still open-minded world traveler of the first two voyages; then to the jaded island-hopper of the third voyage; and finally to the cynical, disillusioned, and somewhat insane misanthrope of the fourth voyage”.
Gulliver's stay in the land of the Houyhnhnms marks the complete loss of his objectivity and innocence. He finds himself midway between the rationality of the Houyhnhnms and the bestiality of the Yahoos. So impressed is he by the Houyhnhnms and so disgusted is he by the Yahoos that he becomes obsessed with trying to be like the Houyhnhnms, when he physically resembles the Yahoos far more. Finally, he gives way to an insanity in which he seems to believe himself to be a Houyhnhnm and rejects even the best of humankind because he believes them to be Yahoos. At the end of the book, Gulliver is still trying to re-acclimatize to life among humans. While condemning his fellow men for their pride, he fails to see that he himself has fallen victim to pride in his disgust at humanity. As a result, the reader ceases to look through his eyes to judge others and begins to look at him and judge him. He, too, becomes an object of satire.
Most of the time during his travels, Gulliver feels isolated from the societies he visits. He does not fit in anywhere, and even during his brief returns to England, he expresses no wish to stay and leaves as quickly as he can. This has led to some critics calling Gulliver's Travels the first novel of modern alienation.
The country of the Houyhnhnms is unique among the nations Gullliver visits because of its subjugation of the individual to the good of society as a whole, which leads to an orderly and well-run nation. The price is that there is little room for human-style individuality. Nobody can become attached to their children because they may be assigned to another family that has a shortage of children; mates are chosen not by individual preference, but for the good of the race; servanthood is genetically mandated. Only during his stay with the Houyhnhnms does Gulliver wish to assimilate into society. His attempts are ridiculous, leading to his taking on the gait and speech patterns of his horse hosts. More seriously, they are doomed to fail: the Houyhnhnms decide that he is not one of them and expel him. The only society to which Gulliver wishes to belong will not have him. Swift raises questions about the conflict between the individual and society, but does not resolve them.
In many ways, Gullivers role as a generic