By: Katherine Hernandez
Jonathan Swift is known famously for using satire in the novel Gulliver’s Travels in order to convey the foolishness and hypocritical nature of the utopian society that is painted by Francis Bacon. Swift uses irony in Gulliver’s Travels in a very clever way; by depicting the obviously fictions adventures of Gulliver in a way that comes across to readers as perhaps a self-narrative he is able to capture the flawed philosophy of imperialism during his era in almost a seamless manner. What he demonstrates goes directly against the utopian ideology that Francis Bacon sheds light on. By mimicking what Bacon would consider a perfect society, Swift uses satire to shed light on a philosophy that is actually far from perfect and in fact could be held to a mockery considering the fact that during this time period the exact opposite was occurring during the process of colonization. The equality and abundance of food that is mentioned in The New Atlantis is actually the exact opposite of what is occurring in the world.
In Gulliver’s Travels a paragraph that demonstrates the irony that exists witch in the text reads as the following, “ 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.” (Part 1, Chapter 3, Page 44)
I found this quote especially ironic. Swift demonstrates how in Bacon’s Utopia, something as seamless as a disagreement between morals and cultures can come to an ultimate conclusion in which the parties may live amongst each other in harmony, however, Swift is very much aware how that is not occurring during his time. In fact, in the real world, there is a lack of regard for other cultures, for their rules and their ways of living. The Opposite of what happens in a reality takes place, however, in a utopian society the Cheerful and Contentment that is expressed may, in fact, be sincere and liberty shall be gifted to those that follow the ideal. However, in the real world that is not the case. Thus we are met with the use of irony and satire in Swift’s novel. It shows how Swift plants his feet firmly in the realistic ways people treat other people, which is in stark contrast to Francis Bacon, who believes in the good people can have towards one another and eventually a world that is built on compromise and equality for all, an ideology that Swift mocks throughout the novel.