Swift’s Mirror of Hypocrisy

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is a piece of work that functions tirelessly as a critique of the Enlightenment period. He uses satire and parody as a means to illuminate the faults of the captivity and travel narratives that rose as genres at the time. With Bacon’s “New Atlantis,” the projection of a perfect Utopian society allowed for individuals to imagine the possibility of life and space where all things were perfect and everything ran smoothly. While this is a great idea, one that I feel all of us wish were true, Swift not only laughs at the presentation of this idea amongst imperialism, genocide, and booming racism, but he also forces the reader to meet head to head with its’ irony.

In chapter three of part one, he writes:
“I sworn and subscribed to the Articles with great Cheerfulness and Contentment, although some of them were not so honorable as I could have wished;…… Whereupon my Chains were immediately unlocked, and I was at full liberty.” (44)

Swift here presents a passive aggressive tone that strikingly targets the hypocrisy found within Bacon’s suggested Utopian society during a time where freedom for all is not seen as that important than the freedom of some. Swift juxtaposes the words “chains” and “liberty” in the same sentence, sarcastically alluding to the impossibility of being ultimately free while still bound by the chains of authorial oppression. He capitalizes “Cheerfulness” and “Contentment” as a means to heighten these proposals with the purpose of bringing them down to sheer reality. Swift wants the readers to recognize that while these ideas are high and mighty; while you may be seen as an excellent person for proposing these ideas- with no execution in the real world, these ideas mean nothing. Treat here is mirroring reality amongst the reflection of hypocrisy.

-Angelica Costilla

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