The Satirical Transformation Of Gulliver Essay

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The Satirical Transformation of Gulliver
Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is difficult to come to terms with for a multitude of reasons. The most immediate problem is that of genre. How may Gulliver’s Travels be categorized? It’s a fiction; it’s written in prose; it’s a children’s tale; it’s a comedy; it’s a tragedy; however, to say this is to say very little. Clearly it’s satirical, but that is not to say it’s a satire. Arther E. Case, for example, thinks that it’s not a satire: “it would be more accurate and more illuminating to call it a politico-sociological treatise much of which is couched in the medium of satire” (Four Essays on Gulliver’s Travels p. 105). In response to Case’s classification, I offer a question: what’s the purpose of formal specification if there are numerous imprecise labels to which this work may conform? Swift’s masterpiece should be entitled to its own donnée; thus, for the sake of this essay, I will shy from all comprehensive forms of categorization. Instead, I’ll consider Gulliver’s Travels on its own terms, sui generis, to interpret its unique presuppositions, many of which are expressed satirically. By allowing Gulliver, an uncritical lover of man, to become a hypercritical hater of man, Swift has it both ways: Gulliver functions as both the object and instrument of satire (Four Essays on Gulliver’s Travels 106).
Perhaps one could reduce Gulliver’s voyage to the country of the Houyhnhnms by describing it as a carefully devised fable; however, this
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