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Paper Topic:

examination of works of Jonathan Swift and Oliver Smith


Jonathan Swift and Oliver Goldsmith must be noted as the most pertinent satirists on the imperfections of the human nature and political systems . It is not so much their political commentary that makes their works important for all generations to come but the efficiency with which they can sugar coat the heavy commentary with entertaining plot and story line

In his preface for the book of The Battle of the books Swift comments thus on Satire

Satire is a glass wherein beholders do generally discover every body 's face

but their own , which is the reason so few are offended by it

Armed with this powerful element Swift proceeds to cast his observant eye on the human frailty and the crassness of his contemporary political system . Taking the example of Gulliver 's travels , long before Einstein could come up with his celebrated Theory of Relativity , through the protagonist , Gulliver examines the way human beings pass judgment on other cultures that they know little about . Instead of approaching a new culture with a n open mind , we often compare the other culture through tinted glasses of our own perception

Had Swift been caustic and realistic in his commentary , the protectors of the establishment would have pounced on him to devour his artistic independence and creative license . Instead , he chose satirize the British custom of selecting the rulers and an apparent lack of democracy . In Lilliput he observes Gulliver observes people being awarded and decorated for being able to jump the highest or creep the farthest . It is a comment on the British system of awarding positions discounting their worthiness and placing an accent on their perceived proximity to the powers that be . Though Gulliver fails to be appalled by the moral backwardness of the Lilliput system of government , he is quick to notice and come to dread the physical ugliness of the Giants . The reader is left to ponder that Lilliputs would have felt much the same about his physique . The satirical genius of Swift is also evident in the way he makes the giants of Brobdingnag more compassionate and repulsive to the idea of British political system

The king of Giants comments that he is surprised that Gulliver could entertain such inhuman ideas , and in so familiar a manner as to appear wholly unmoved at all the scenes of blood and desolation , which (he ) had painted as the common effects of those destructive machines ' Rev Jonathan Swift , Gulliver 's Travels ,


Racism , which is simply put , the way of stereotyping a race with their physical appearances and canonizing the misconceptions , is the subject of this satire . Gulliver assumes the giants to be violent because , to him , they seem offending and large . On the contrary they turn out to be more compassionate than average human beings . The king of Brobdingnag rejects the idea of Gunpowder and is repulsed at the though to somebody contemplating violence and bloodshed in so casual a manner

Laputa and Lagodo are satires on High society and pseudo-intellectuals respectively . The contempt of an average and intelligent individual towards the absurdity of several high society customs and highbrow attitude of intellectuals in meaningless pursuits , which they claim to be the essence of living , finds humorous expression in Gulliver 's travels to these two exotic lands . The most direct Sift comes to a satirical assault is in his s of Tribnia and Langden (Britain and England obviously . There are some who argue that Swift is a misanthrope by his depictions of Yahoos and Hoyhnhnms . But it is a warning in the perfect satirical tradition of exaggeration that Human beings can plunge to the depths of depravity if they do not rein in their base instincts

On the contrary Oliver Swift is an under rated satirist . His is not the brand of on your face satire . It is the satire that the reader should seek for behind the seemingly innocuous storytelling , which nevertheless is highly entertaining . The argument still begets several supporters on either side- whether Vicar of Wakefield or She stoops to Conquer are straight from the heart novels , or satires on that genre . The similarities between the biblical story of the Job from the Old Testament and the travails and the ultimate triumph of Primrose have been commonly noted . In addition Goldsmith addresses several social issues like penal reforms , and irritants like crass behavior and snobbery of rigid class system . The intolerance towards anything novel and different is a reference point dealt with by Goldsmith in great detail . For example Mr .Hardcastle says And I love it . I love everything that 's old : old friends , old manners , old books . old wine (p .24 ) The success of the book even (in fact , more so ) after the death of Goldsmith serves as the practical satire on the popularity of overly sentimental , weak plotted and improbable romantic novels , which were under currency in the 18th and the 19th centuries . This leads to the popular critical conclusion that Goldsmith intended his works as an instrument of , and not the actual object of satire

Satire as an instrument of social commentary is the high point of Jonathan Swift , while a subtler but equally sure version is found in the works of Oliver Goldsmith


Swift , Jonathan . Gulliver 's Travels , New York : Penguin classics , 1997

Goldsmith , Oliver . She Stoops to Conquer , New York : Penguin Classics 1982

Goldsmith , Oliver . The vicar of Wakefield , New York , Penguin Classics 1982

Williams , Kathleen . Jonathan Swift : the Critical Heritage , London Routledge , 1995

Swift , Jonathan . The Battle of the Books , Montana : Kessinger Publishing ,2004 ...

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