Jonathan Swift

Satire on a Nation Jonathan Swift’s, Gulliver’s Travels satirically relates
bodily functions and physical attributes to social issues during England’s
powerful rule of Europe. Through out the story we find many relations between
bodily features and British and European society. Swift uses this tone of
mockery to explain to his reader the importance of many different topics during
this time of European rule. Swift feels that the body and their functions relate
to political as well as the ration of a society. Swift’s fascination with the
body comes from its unproblematic undertone which gives his audience
recognizable parallelism to many issues such as political change and scientific
innovation. Gulliver’s first adventure takes place in Lilliput. Gulliver swims
to 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 by
little bodied people called the Lilliputians. The Lilliputians stood no more
than six inches high. During this time Swift recognized that England was also a
kind of six inch being that had great influence in Europe. Swift wrote

Gulliver’s Travel’s during a time when Europe was the worlds most dominant
and influential force. England, despite its small size, had the potential to
defeat any nation that might try to conquer them. Swift relates this phenomenon
to the small stature of the Lilliputians. They stood a mere six inches high but
had the power to siege the mammoth Gulliver. The capability of a nation
consisting of miniature people, who are able to capture someone ten-times their
size can be seen as reinforcing the capability of a small nation, such as

England, becoming and remaining a great power. Even though this is true, Swift
entices a condescending tone to Gulliver’s portrayal of the small

Lilliputians, who easily fit into the hands of Gulliver, yet still manage to
threaten his life. Even though the Lilliputians are piteously small in

Gulliver’s eyes, they do not see themselves the same way. To themselves, the

Lilliputians feel they are normal and Gulliver remains the outlandish giant. The
unexpected infringement of giant Gulliver into the Lilliputians well-developed
society reminds the European society, that size and strength are always
relative, and there is no way for Europe to be certain that a Gulliver-like
giant, might not arrive and conquer them at any moment. This encounter, between

Gulliver and the Lilliputians would put Europe’s confidence in its power in
jeopardy. Swift made sure that this message got across to humble the society of

England. In chapter three we see the advance of Gulliver in the Lilliputians
society. During the process of integrating Gulliver finds that their culture is
based around trivial issues. These trivial issues can be looked at as subsequent
to their small stature. Gulliver finds that their government officials are
chosen by rope dancing. To Gulliver and the reader these practices are
ridiculous and arbitrary, but to the Lilliputians who do not need extravagant
things because of their size, see these practices as normal. Swift uses this
scene to satire the British government at this time. The British government also
elected their ministers in a trivial manner. In order to receive freedom from
the Lilliputians, Gulliver must help them in battle. Gulliver \'s agreement to
the terms provided in his contract to stay on the island for his freedom came
not from exceeding force from the Lilliputians, for Gulliver could crush their
entire 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 their
laws could even rule this great bodily giant with them. Noticeably the audience
sees that Gulliver can easily crush the tiny Lilliputians, but he decides out of
the kindness of his heart not to forcefully become free. Once this great body
inquires his freedom, there will be no way for these small humans to thrust
their laws upon him. Trying to control outside forces were also flaws that

Europe processed at this time. We again see how Gulliver feels that land is
control by people and not land controlling itself. When the audience sees that

Europe remains controlled by human bodily egos, this makes his satire even more
convincing and critical. In the next chapters, the Lilliputians let Gulliver
receive his freedom, at the same time they realize what kind of political power
they can gain from the body size of Gulliver. Gulliver goes into battle with the

Lilliputians and destroys most of the Blefescan naval fleets, but not all of
them. Gulliver is greeted as a hero, because