Swift, Rowlandson and The Creature

In part one, chapter one of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Swift satirizes Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. He was “struggling to get loose… which gave [him] excessive pain” (24). Like Rowlandson, Gulliver has found himself being held captive by foreigners, he is bound with ropes and pegs and had “an hundred arrows discharged on [his] left hand” (24). Gulliver has “thought it most prudent Method to lie still” only after doing so “an hundred of the Inhabitants mounted, and walked towards [his] Mouth, laden with Baskets full of Meat” and “slung up with great Dexterity one of their largest Hogsheads [that] tasted like a small Wine” (24, 25, 26). Though being held captive Gulliver is continuously getting copious amounts of food, like Rowlandson who was also harmed during her captivity and fed by her captors, even given money to “run errands” for them. Rowlandson is never harmed again after being captured but used for work whereas Gulliver gets harmed after being captured and takes advantage of the mounts of food he can get. Gulliver wanted “to seize Forty or Fifty of [them] that came into [his] reach, and dash them against the Ground” unlike Rowlandson who never considered harming her captors (26). Like Rowlandson, Swift included native words such as, “Langro Debul san (these Words and the former were afterwards repeated and explained to me)” (25). When reading this section of A Voyage to Lilliput Gulliver doesn’t only remind me of Rowlandson, he reminds me of the creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankensteinin the way he learned to acquire the language of the natives. It also realtes to how the creature was too held in captivity by Victor. All three were held captive, but only Rowlandson and Gulliver were shown some form of hospitality by their captors demonstrated through the above actions stated. The resemblances between Rowlandson and Swift is continuous throughout the novel, but is most predominant in this passage.

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– Alina Cantero

3 thoughts on “Swift, Rowlandson and The Creature

  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog post because of the connections you made between Swift, Rowlandson, and Shelley. While I did know there was a connection between Swift and Rowlandson, I did not think of Frankenstein which is why your blog post was so enlightening. Thank you for opening my eyes to that

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought your comparison to Shelley’s Frankenstein in looking into how Gulliver and the creature “learned to acquire the language of the natives,” noting especially the sense of development through nurture. I thought it was interesting in the passage how Gulliver had a literal nurse to take care of him in comparison to how the creature didn’t have a parental figure.


  3. I really enjoyed reading your blog post. My favorite part is how you used not two but three books to make connections to. While it was easy to make the connection between Swift and Rowlandson, as they both are about the captivity genre, the connection to Frankenstein is not one I would have expected which only made your post that more enjoyable to read. An improvement I would suggest would be to explain more about the Frankenstein connection. You brought up a good point and then it seems to cut off so more focus on Shelley’s novel would have been great


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