The Ridiculous “Truth”

Based on what we’ve learned from the captivity novel and the characteristics tied to it, the singular story is extremely dramatized for the purpose of convincing the reader that the story is true. But, it becomes very obvious that Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, intends on going against what most would expect it to be. In reading, “A Letter From Captain Gulliver, To His Cousin Sympson,” we see that there was good reason for him to be upset about his credibility being questioned. Given that there were repetitive phrases regarding omitting information as to not “trouble” the reader (“Too many to trouble the reader with at this time”), it is safe to assume this was directly making fun of the length and depth that a captivity novel would go into. It also sounded a lot like Swift was saying, “let me not bore you as the reader by including all of this unnecessary information that captivity novels usually include to sound more dramatic and believable.” Aside from mimicking the tone of a captivity novel that is focusing on a story trying to prove the hardship of being kidnapped, Swift definitely was connecting more to the reader because he was making every situation something the reader would find strange. For example, the fact that there is so much mentioned about the way in which Natives were so organized down to their traditions and that they were protective but still kind. This acknowledgement that Natives were human and not savages is something that Mary Rowlandson did not do any of in her story. In the same way, he was shedding light on the ridiculous things most colonists would be scared of like when he brings up “death under his foot” or dying by their “reaping hook” which makes you think if you’re actually watching a pirate movie (Swift, 83). And because of that, Swift is blatantly mimicking the same tone only to allow the reader to realize that it’s all too absurd to be true. There’s also a lot of power in this novel because it gives the reader space to make their own assumptions about what they’re reading with a reminder that you should be able to question everything you read.


-Ruth Serrano

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