Monday, February 13, 2006

from Gulliver's Travels

I am reading and analyzing Gulliver’s Travels in my other English class and am going to blog the rough draft to a paragraph that I found interesting.

The following is the paragraph that I will discuss:

“My master gave public notice that he would show me again the next market day, and in the meantime he prepared a more convenient vehicle for me, which he had reason enough to do; for I was so tired with my first journey, and with entertaining company for eight hours together, that I could hardly stand upon my legs or speak a word. It was at least three days before I recovered my strength; and that I might have no rest at home, all the neighboring gentlemen from an hundred miles round, hearing of my fame, came to see me at my master’s own house. There could not be fewer than thirty persons with their wives and children (for the country is very populous); and my master demanded the rate of a full room whenever he showed me at home, although it were only to a single family. So that for some time I had but little ease every day of the week (except Wednesday, which is their Sabbath) although I were not carried to the town. My master finding how profitable I was like to be, resolved to carry me to the most considerable cities of the kingdom.”

This excerpt occurs after Gulliver has left the port of Lilliput and washed upon the shore of Brobdingnag. He gets taken to a farmer’s house where the role is reversed and rather than being surrounded by a town full of people who are six inches in height, he is surrounded by giants which is a total change for him. The passage above takes place after he learns to communicate with the farmer and his family and after the farmer realizes that he can make money off of Gulliver.
From the very beginning of the passage it is apparent that Gulliver has been stripped his human characteristics and is described more like a slave. He calls the farmer his master and spends his days doing exactly as he says. When the Farmer first saw Gulliver, he referred to him as a field creature. Because of this, it does not surprise me that he would treat him as though he was a mere animal as he does in this passage. The farmer made Gulliver work hours on end until he literally could not stand. I don’t know if Swift was trying to hint at anything in this but it made me think of how people take other people for granted, how child labor exists in the world, and how much we do not realize that sometimes the things we find interesting to watch are really hurting the people who are being forced to do so. Obviously the farmer is not a rich man and he uses Gulliver’s size to make money. This is something that I think relates to many people as much as they do not like to admit it. All too often people are exploited for money because they are different. Gulliver is treated in Brobdingnag as many people are when they are out of place and join the circus or are enslaved because they find themselves in a land where they know no one and really cannot leave.
Gulliver is treated this way the entire time he is in Brobdingnag. When he is sold to the Majesty he is treated a lot better, and given much nicer things, but still is kept in a box on the windowsill that, if hanging, would be nothing more than a bird cage. The passage above is simply the first instance that I really saw him being treated as if he was on the same level as an animal and this is why I decided to write about it.

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