Having read Jonathan Swift’s novel, Gulliver’s Travels, in high school, I found it an exciting task to reread this great work from a slightly older, more experienced outlook. I was pleasantly surprised to find that time had greatly changed the way I viewed this novel. Upon first reading the novel I feel that I viewed the book in a more childlike matter, scoffing at his ideas of world politics and not understanding much of his satire. I was told in my high school class that Swift wrote Gulliver’s Travels as a satire of English politics. Back then, I assumed that he himself must have been an Englishman and felt the need to mock the politics of his country. Four years later, I find out that Swift was in fact an Irishman, which entirely changed the meaning of the satire for me. It is one thing when a person writes a satire about the politics of one’s own country, as in the book, Primary Colors, which made fun of the Clinton establishment in the White House. However, in my opinion, it is of greater insult when it comes from an outsider, a foreigner, who may have a deeper reason for insulting the English nation, and I feel that in this case it might be because of the long felt oppression of Ireland by England.
Coming into English 366, I honestly never knew very much about the oppression of Ireland from England. I knew that there had always been trouble between the two countries, but I never knew of the strong feelings that have been expressed about England in many Irish works of literature. After reading works from this course I began to see Swift’s emphasis on politics, his use of gross humor and his ideas of fitting into society in both the excerpt found ...
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...ire has helped me to examine my own world for what it really is and I am now in the position of Gulliver in trying to find out where I fit in. I will graduate soon and am supposed to find my place in society. I will have to start my own journeys to find a place where I can “fit in” and feel as if I am doing a service to making our society better. By becoming a teacher, I plan to try to bring about change to our society, but I know that it may be an impossible task. I will have to view my life from within myself and from others’ point of view, and try to see where I can go from there. I hope that I will not go crazy in my search as poor Gulliver did, and that I can find my place in our less-then-perfect society.
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, (Penquin Books, 2001).
Colm Toibin, The penguin book of Irish fiction, (Penguin Books, 1999).
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