Reversing the Cultural Views of Colonialism through a Change in Perspective

Part 2 of Gulliver’s Travel by Jonathan Swift, Gulliver finds an island where he is 1/20th the size of the native people. This mass contrast in size creates a paradoxical view of how Europeans view natives in the new world. Throughout Gulliver’s Travel, swift’s uses Gulliver adventures to foreign land and his interactions with native people to satirically comment on European colonialism. Colonialism spelled disaster for any group involved beside the well to do white man. The passage where Gulliver first gets put on display, page 92-93, is incredible ironic. This passage in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travel suggests that humankind wouldn’t be happier if it could think and behave the way the Houyhnhnms and other native groups do. Also, this passage also satires captivity narratives and their popularity in Europe through a change in perspective.

Colonization of north America was incredibly profitable for the European’s yet most of the profits came at the expense of the native population. Swift takes this reality and reverse it in this narrative. This major change in perspective shows how inhumane white settlers treated native populations when invading their land. The Europeans flatout mistreated the native population. Instead of treating them as equals the Europeans treated the natives as a spectacle, a form of entertainment that was flat out inferior to europeans. European/puritan captivity narratives were incredible popular. This popularity is parodied by swift in this passage. The reader can see this parodying when swift wrote, “For, those who had seen me made such wonderful reports, that the people were ready to break down the doors to come in” (Swift 93). The master purely see Gulliver as a form of profit, just like how the Europeans viewed native population. He’s so profitable in his first day on display that the master decides to take Gulliver to “the most considerable cities of the kingdom” (Swift 93). Swift writes this narrative because, like the natives, he is a victim of imperialism. So, swifts objective for gulliver’s travels is to give the other perspective to the impacts of colonialism and imperialism.


2 thoughts on “Reversing the Cultural Views of Colonialism through a Change in Perspective

  1. The main idea of this post is, “So, swifts objective for gulliver’s travels is to give the other perspective to the impacts of colonialism and imperialism.” You seem to talk about the Houyhnhnms and the giants above everything else. If you elaborate more on humans and perhaps even add the Yahoos behavior, it might help support your claim.

    Extra Credit 13/25/4


  2. The main idea here is that Swift satirizes European colonialism above all which ties to the other parts of the novel. You also mention how the little people are a representation of how the European saw the other people in the new lands they found–small and insignificant. My question though for your post though would be, how is it that Swift reverses the effects of colonialism? This is a very interesting statement you propose which you can expand on.

    Enrique Ramos
    Extra Credit 4/17/17


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