Political satire is a kind of satire that specially concentrates on gaining amusement from political aspects. That device is used with a subversive intent where political discord and discussion are prohibited by an administration, as a way of continuing political arguments where arguments are expressly prohibited. Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is mainly a political satire, the aim of which is to knock the prevailing vices, corruption, treasons, lusts for power and wealth, etc. of the politicians and monarchs in England. Jonathan Swift severely criticizes the politics in English through a number of symbolic characters whom Gulliver meets throughout his journey. This article aims at dealing with the satirical aspects of Gulliver’s first couple of voyages.
The hierarchical structure
In part I, A Voyage to Lilliput, Jonathan Swift satirizes the king. He presents the king is taller than other Lilliputian people, which is considered as his natural supremacy. So, naturally, he is superior to others. Here he satirizes the concept of the natural greatness of a king. In England, the belief has been such that the king is naturally greater than others, and the greatness is given to him the God, which is a divine decision. Nobody can challenge him as the position has been given to him by God. It is a hierarchical structure called “The Great Chain of Being” where God is at the top, then comes the king, then humanity, then animals, and then the mean creature like insects. The concept of “The Great Chain of Being” is satirized by Swift. Swift, through Gulliver who said, He is taller by almost the breadth of my nail. This comparison provides the element of mockery. Actually, Swift wants to say that there is no such thing as the natural superiority of the king rather, he is naturally equal to others.
By comparing the lavish lifestyle of the royal family members with a petticoat, Swift exhibits a terrible satire. Royal families do luxury on the production of the subjects. They never get connected with any sort of production. So, indirectly they are a kind of parasite. They live on others shoulders. So, they should not express pride, and that is what Swift is trying to convey here.
Swift ridicules the army of Lilliputians through the description of the army’s parade between Gulliver’s legs. Having military power, a country can boast of its strength. But Swift wants to say that there might be factors on this planet which are way superior to the military power. For instance, in front of disease, natural calamities, etc. the power of the army is nothing. Suppose, if a Tsunami occurs, what will be the use of those nuclear weapons? So, in that picture, when Swift puts Gulliver and the army together in the scene, it can be conceived that there is no reason behind the hubris of Lilliput.
The outlook and administrative ability of the kings
Another ridiculous element Swift infuses lies amidst the thinking of Lilliputian king. He thinks that by winning against Blefuscu, he will become the owner of the world. It is a funny matter since the Lilliputian king believes that the world is comprised of only two countries. So he has got a very narrow outlook about the world. With that narrow outlook, he expresses pride, and that is what Swift ridicules. Swift also ridicules the ability of the kings that they see and judge with the eyes of their minister. They do not use their own conscience, which makes them parasite even in the matter of administration as well.
Mr Flimnap and his wife
Mr Flimnap is also ridiculed by the rumour that Gulliver is having an affair with Flimnap’s wife. Another satire the readers can find in the incident of catching fire at the Queen’s palace. Gulliver urinates to extinguish the fire since he does not have any other option left. At that, the Queen becomes acutely annoyed. Here Swift indicates the incident of satirizing Queen Anne in his Tale of a Tub so that she stops the war between Catholic and Protestant. But Queen Anne did not conceive that and got annoyed.
Another satirical example Swift shows through the event of the rope dance. The system to select officials for public office is very different in Lilliput from other community. To get selected, a person must have to take part in “rope dancing” and have to put the best of his caliber, and the best performer secures the position in the higher office: this diversion is only practiced by those persons who are candidates for great employments and high favor at court. Despite not following such an absurd way to select public officials, the nations in Europe in Swift’s time period did not choose public officers in terms of their skills or abilities or potentials, rather on how potentially a candidate could be able to fill the right pockets with cash.
Can Tereza’s Nightmares be Interpreted as a Political Satire?
Tereza’s nightmares analysis explores the potential of interpreting them as a form of political satire. By examining the symbols and themes within her dreams, it becomes apparent that they hold underlying references to current political issues. Tereza’s nightmares can be seen as a satirical commentary on the state of politics, offering a unique perspective and provoking thought on societal matters.
The nature of war
Swift also ridicules the absurd nature of war. He first encounters the war, the subject-matter of which is the method of breaking an egg. One of the former kings snatched the right of private preferences away from his subject through ordering his subjects to break the egg from the lower end, in lieu of breaking it from the middle part. Swift compares this criterion to the conditions where an authoritative authority suppresses his people through setting everything according to his own choice. It also demonstrates the way a ridiculous, simplistic activity can create war. The war sustains generation after generation since the people continued fighting without really understanding the reason behind it. Some of the men tried to thwart, and they were ended up as refugees in Blefuscu, and “for six and thirty moons past” both the sides have been at war. According to Swift, Lilliput is similar to England, and Blefuscu to France. Through that incident of the story, Swift satirizes the worthless dispute and war between both the nations.
In the second part, A Voyage to Brobdingnag, the readers can find that Swift through the scientists of the Brobdingnag ridicules the scientists of the West. The Brobdingnag scientist, after researching on Gulliver says that Gulliver must be an embryo, but others disagree. At last, they manage to come to an agreement that he is a wimp of nature. Identically, western scientists also provide conclusions which are ridiculous as well, which proves that the scientists are unable to do any remarkable invention. To conclude, Gulliver’s Travels is rich in both content and meanings. Throughout the four parts, satires are both implicitly and explicitly constructed, and among them, the first couple of parts are discussed in the article. The eminence of this novel does not expressly lodge in Swiftian satire. It is exactly like, Swift provided a mirror through which humans can see their own flaws lie underneath them.