Fictionin any form, is rarely ever completely fiction. It is a mixture of both thereal world and of the intangible imaginary world. Gulliver’s Travels, a book written by Jonathan Swift is a primeexample of the real world and the imaginary world colliding and producingsomething spectacular. The book, Gulliver’sTravels, is written in first person which lets the reader fully and whollyunderstand what is happening in Gulliver’s life. There are many similarities inGulliver’s life and in Jonathan’s life. One is they both traveled to many partsof the world, although some were imaginary, they still traveled great distancesto different countries.
Both Swift and Gulliver were also highly educated men.The third similarity is that they were both very involved with the politics oftheir time. Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin,Ireland, on November 30, 1667. He was an educated man who traveled to Englandas a fourteen year old to attend college at Oxford. Then he returned to Irelandto become a chaplain. After that, in 1709, he traveled once again to England,but this time to London.
Then after some time, he returned to Dublin, Ireland,where he would live out the rest of his days. Gulliver on the other hand hadmore extensive travels than Jonathan had. Gulliver first traveled to Lilliput,or rather was shipwrecked there.
Lilliput was a land filled with miniature peoplewho were about six inches tall. From Lilliput, he traveled to Blefuscu, then toAustralia where he set sail back to England. Then once again Gulliver set sailfrom England, but this time he ended up in Brobdingnag, which was a countrythat was populated with giants. Everything in Brobdingnag was supersizedcompared to Gulliver, including all of the bugs, animals, and vegetation. FromBrobdingnag, Gulliver set sail for the East Indies, was attacked by pirates andthen was forced to sail in a small boat until he came upon Laputa.
Laputa wasan island that was inhabited by people who were academic scholars. Then,directly under the island of Laputa was Balnibarbi, which was also inhabited byscholars, but they were a lower class of scholars. After Gulliver had seen allthat he wanted to see in Laputa and Balnibarbi, he traveled to Glubbdubdrib. InGlubbdubdrib, Gulliver met ghostlike people from the past, such as Aristotle, Pompey,Alexander the Great, Brutus, Hannibal, and Homer.He talked with some of these legendary people and then decided that they arenot everything that the history books made them out to be. After he hadfinished talking with legends from the past, he was fortunate enough to be ableto sail to Japan, and then from Japan he sailed back to England.
After a whileGulliver decided to set sail once again, but this time he set sail as thecaptain of his own ship. However, Gulliver’s crew mutinied against him and helanded in a land inhabited by Houyhnhnms. The Houyhnhnms were horses who werethe only rational thinking creatures in all of his travels.
The Houyhnhnms wereserved by humanlike creatures called Yahoos. He eventually learned theirlanguage and had conversations with the Houyhnhnms. They talked about politics,such as the English Constitution and the Houyhnhnms government. Gulliver wasgreatly intrigued by the Houyhnhnms and want to live with them for the rest ofhis life, but the Houyhnhnms later discovered that he was too much like a Yahooand was exiled from the presence of the Houyhnhnms. Gulliver was greatly saddened,but he left like he was instructed to.
After he was exiled, he decided to builda makeshift canoe that took him out to sea, where he boarded a Portuguese ship,which eventually took him back to England. Then he lived out the rest of his daysin England. He later claimed that all of the places he had visited were nowcolonies of England. This shows that fiction is a mix of real and of a figmentof someone’s imagination, because even though a multitude of the places inGulliver’s story are not real, a few of them are, such as England, Japan, andPortugal. Jonathan puts these realplaces into his book so that the reader can better understand some of theconcepts in the story and so that he can place some current events in the storyas well. Jonathan Swift and Gulliver wereboth well-educated men which is another aspect of Jonathan Swift’s life thatshows fiction is a mix between reality and one’s imagination. Jonathan Swiftbegan his higher level education at the young age of fourteen. His father was alawyer, which had an effect on what kind of education Jonatan received.
Jonathanattended Oxford University from 1681 to 1688, finally graduating after 7 yearsof studying. From there he went on to become Sir William Temple’s secretary,and he continued to learn new information with each passing day, because SirWilliam was an English politician and in addition to that he was an activemember of the Whig Party. Six years later in 1694, Jonathan worked for theChurch of Ireland where he continued to further his education and he also beganto write work of his own.
Then some time later he returned to Ireland andcontinued to write literary works criticizing the government and churchcorruption. Then in 1709 Jonathan once again traveled to England where hefought on behalf of the Church of Ireland. While he was in England Jonathan joinedthe Martinus Scriblerus Club which was a literary club devoted to creatingsatires about the English government.
Members of the club included AlexanderPope, Jonathan Swift, John Gay, Thomas Parnell, and John Arbuthnot. While hewas a part of this club, he gained valuable information that contributed to hiscontinuance of learning and he also collaborated with and taught the othermembers of the club. Finally he returned to Ireland where he continued hiseducation by writing a number of literary pieces. Lemuel Gulliver was also awell-educated man, he attended Cambridge University until his family could nolonger afford his tuition.
Then he went on to be a surgeon’s apprentice inLondon. While he was still an apprentice, studying to be a surgeon, a man namedJames Bates taught him the skills necessary to sail a ship, such as mathematicsand map navigation. After he finished his apprenticeship, he continued tofurther his education by studying physics at a school near London. Then he wentto put his learning into practice as a surgeon on a ship called the Swallow for three years.Later, he continued to sail and travel the world as a surgeon on differentships, such as the Antelope. Finallyafter several years of traveling the sea, Gulliver became the captain of hisown ship and set sail again to continue learning about the world.
Unfortunatelyfor Gulliver, his crew mutinied and Gulliver wound up adrift in the ocean untilhe landed at a land unknown to other humans which was inhabited by Houyhnhnms.After he had learned about the land and its inhabitants, he returned toEngland, where he reflected on all that he had learned thought out his travels. Furthermore, both Jonathan Swift and Gulliver were bothinvolved with politics along with their desire to continue their education. JonathanSwift was almost born into politics with his father being a lawyer. Although hegrew up in the care of his uncle, who could not teach him the things aboutpolitics that his father could, he still became involved with politics in hislater years. After he graduated from college he became a secretary for a memberof the Whig party by the name of Sir William Temple. While he spent time as asecretary for this English politician, he learned many aspects of the politicalworld. After that, in 1694, he became increasingly involved in the Church ofIreland, which at the time influenced politics greatly.
Then after his service tothe church in England, he returned to Ireland where he became a chaplain. Bythis time in his life, Swift had begun to write satires that pointed out corruptionand fraudulent conduct that was occurring at the time in the Government and inthe Church. Swift continued to create literary works and he also began tocreate written works that were favorable to the Whig Party. Swift continued tosupport both the Church and the Whig Party until he started to campaign for thechurch and the Whig Party conflicted with the Churches beliefs. As a result ofthis, Swift became a part of the Tory Party in 1710.
Then Swift continued towrite about the government and the Church during the time he spent in Englandcampaigning for the Church. Shortly after Swift had joined the Tory Party, itfell out of power in 1714, and Swift returned to Dublin, Ireland. After Swifthad returned to Ireland, he continued to write Gulliver’s Travels and he alsostarted to write about the English government trying to weaken the governmentof Ireland. Then he continued to be involved in politics and the church untilhe was proclaimed unfit to take care of himself, just three years before hisdemise. In comparison, Gulliver was also heavily involved in the politics ofhis time, in fact it was the same time period that Jonathan Swift lived in. Gulliver’sfirst encounter with politics is when he sets sail and ends up in Lilliputwhere he becomes a part of the Lilliputian Army and learns about theLilliputian’s government.
While he was in Lilliput, he also learned about thegovernment of the neighboring country, Blefuscu. Later he sails back toEngland, stays a mere two months with his family and then sets sail once again.This time, he ends up in Brobdingnag where he is bought by the Queen and isbrought into a royal setting. Here he is able to witness the Brobdingnagian government,and he finds that no one in the land actually knows anything about politics.
Afterall of that, he once again set sail, this time, he landed in an entirely newland called, Laputa. In Laputa, the government was almost entirely focused onscientific research. They also focused on being better than the people of theland directly underneath them, which was called Balnibarbi. Gulliver was notimpressed by the government of either of the two countries and decided tocontinue on his journey. His next destination was Glubbdubdrib, which, justlike all of the other countries did not have a developed governmental system.
Soon after he arrived there he set sail to Japan and then back to England. Thenhe sets sail on his final journey, which takes him to a land filled with Houyhnhnmsand Yahoos. He Houyhnhnms are the only creatures on any of his journeys thathave a wonderful government. Gulliver learned all about their government andthen against his own will, he to sailed back to England where he lived out therest of his life. In conclusion, all of these examples show that fiction isnever entirely fiction, it almost always incorporates something from the realworld.
Sometimes it might be something very simple, such as real places orpeople. As we have seen here, Jonathan Swift incorporated many things from thereal world into his book, Gulliver’sTravels. He did this in a variety of ways, from placing hisown experiences, countries of that time, and events that were current to thattime period into his book. These examples also show how the time period thatthe book was written in are compared to the time period of the events in thebook.