Gullivers Travel By Jonathan Swift English Literature Essay

Many critics regard Gulliver’s travel, as an anti-feministic book, readers can not forget some instances of these strong misogynism in his book such as: repugnant smell, coming of the maids of Brobdingangs ,the incredible dugs of the women of yahoo ,Gulliver’s hatred toward meeting his wife again ,and his strong fear of sexual advances of many women who pursue him during his travel are some instances of this anti-feminism. In short, that’s better to say that Swift, by the creation of the satire against women has placed himself among radical misogynist.

There is a strong gender-relationship during the four parts of Gulliver’s travels, as if the four parts define the meaning of female and male in his different visits. In the protagonist’s first two visits, the female in fact becomes as a representative of nation; in other words, it becomes a kind of metaphor for nation. The nation actually becomes a female man here. But the third voyage is different from the first two ones; here Laputa becomes actually sexual rather than maternal in the first stage. In the voyage four, in fact he encounters a world of reason that is masculine, and of course reader encounter Yahoos which in the novel are feminized as a group of “others” .Instead of conquering the female body, Gulliver actually becomes a misanthrope.

In the city of Liliput unfortunately, these little and small people take away everything of him such as his scimitar, scabbard, etc so he in the city is demasculinized. .In fact the protagonist’s gendering, includes his own awareness of himself as a kind of subject to a nation which is in fact his motherhood.

In the best known event in part one, gender shows itself prominently when a careless maid, “fell asleep while reading a romance”(96) and caused a fire in empress building. So in order to have an interaction to it, Gulliver urinates on the fire as a sign of masculine power to determine his masculine territory. His misplaced aid and help to a female causes him to go from the country. The readers in the scene can comprehend that the empress helps Gulliver’s deed and punishes him, which derives from her being a female man, a woman who has political power. The important point is that during Gulliver’s different travels he visits just kings and empresses, not their consorts. So in part one we can see so clearly that it is not against women but in fact it is again a man who his masculine authority is in danger.

As a matter of fact the nursing breast of the political power especially in the first two voyages is desired and simultaneously hated. In Gulliver’s travel the breast of the mother has two functions; both sexual and political, and of course this power seems so assertive ,when for example the protagonist is set astride the nipple of the maid of honor and when in fact he is fearful of being killed by the holes of Brobdingangian beggar woman. Actually the kind of obsession with the breast in the novel is showing a kind of cultural obsession. Ruth Perry has explained a change from the breast sexuality to its rule of motherhood in the 18th century. The breast she defines is “site of woman sexual definition and dependence and of the struggle between men over her sexual uses”(233).This kind of change can be described as a separation between these two functions, to be done by different genders, So in this case as observed, breast is a sign for women power.

A very important point to mention Is the potential threat of Brobdingangian monkey which actually looks after Gulliver “he took me up in his right fore-foot and held me as a nurse doth a child she is going to suckle”(123).The monkey’s attempt to feed Gulliver causes Gulliver to vomit, in fact in this terrifying scène, we as readers observe a function of motherhood, and it is feeding; although, here the monkey is male but the image is a female one. In the case of Brobdingangian nurse, the breast has the connotation of both the sexual desire and at the same time nurturing, and this is the time in which the Gulliver’s hatred toward women body is shown so clearly, although, Gulliver very quickly finds that Brobdingangs are not so much malicious, but good-natured and by all the implication existed in the novel he in fact implies that all women are the same if we scrutinize them all are: coarse, disguising, smelly. Although he again and again mentions that it is in real his own view toward women and female but it is not enough, because, the damage of satire is done, the effect of the creation of the image that women are both horrid, and at the same time not so much, leaves the reader with the image of horrid pimpled breasts. While in fact Swift misogynism is projected in his novel, and as a consequence, Gulliver’s hatred of women is injected in the readers’ mind.

What the readers can comprehend of the novel, is that the boundaries are undefined between Gulliver and women, and simultaneously between man and animals .In Brobdingang the role of women is more prominent than Liliputian, maybe the reason is their size Glumdalclitch ,the nine-year old of Gulliver’s mistress ,names him, teaches him the language from a “common treatise for the use of young girls”(105),and of course the child acts as a kind of surrogate mother .Here actually infantilized and pitted, Gulliver becomes a commodity of women and here it is women, which have voice and seem stronger than men. The queen scaffolds his womanly cowardice, and the maids of honor harm actually the “humanity” he himself become able, to destroy by the end of part four.

We have many traces in the Swifts novel, which illustrate so clearly his strong desire to distance himself from female body .Gulliver flees from any sexual relationship when the king insists that “a woman of my own size, by whom I may propagate the breed”(138).The kind of fever toward sexuality causes an upheaval in the country unlike Gulliver who acts so cautiously in the case.

If we have the concept of maternity so prevalent and of course prominent in the part one and two, but the concept of being a whore is much more noticeable in part three .At the academy of Lagado Gulliver learns that “constancy ,chastity ,good sense ,and good nature were not rated ,because they would not bear the charge of collecting”(180).In Glubdubdrib Gulliver discovers that the world has “been misled by prostitute writers”, and he is so much offended to know that the leaders govern by incest are prostituting their own wives and daughters(187).Politics in fact is dominated by the intrigue and illegitimate power which is attributed to whoring.” a whore can govern the back-stairs ,the back-stairs a council, and the council a senate”(188).Actually the women are in quest of fleeing from the flying island to Lagado.The Laputans do their utmost, to control the females although their attempt is frustrated by the sexual behavior of the women. As mentioned before here again we have the portrayal of women who are so obsessed wit sexuality and nothing else.

What is so striking is that the Laputan men are rational but in excess, and in fact they are bad, logical creatures. They show the difference by the exclusion of women from taking parts in political decisions, and readers can see Swift’s satire on femininity in Gulliver’ complaint about Balnibarbi:

I conversed only with women ,tradesmen ,Flappers, and court-pages, during two months of my abode there ,by which at last I rendered my self extremely contemptible, yet they were the only people from whom I could ever receive a reasonable answer.(166)

Here we see that it is in fact the women, the illiterate who are dangerous enough, to rebel against the rationality of men, but the paradox lays here that Gulliver in attempting to understand about the country, places himself among women, and other minorities and “others” of Laputa.

Throughout the novel, Gulliver’s sexuality becomes a kind of object to illustrate the savagery of “native” women .In the novel we see the strong accusation toward women in which we have descriptions of women, who are in excess promiscuous and in favor of polygamy ,Gulliver for example is accused of infidelity with the wife of Flimnap ,who has a “violent affection for my person(77).The passionate attachment of women in the novel to Gulliver shows in fact the inferiority of women so clearly, as we see in the novel ,the protagonist, Gulliver abhors union with other women but the reason is not his morality or anything else ,the reason is his choice between bad and worse it is bad to have one wife as a kind of other and union with her, but the worse is while the number of them is going to be increased ,and if there is any kind of union it’s because of the matter that the union with the other will resolve his repulsion into attraction and into a kind of identification with them.

In fact, while Gulliver feels a sense of attraction toward any creatures, they are others ,he mentions “a vary comely mare ,together with a Colt and Fole ,sitting on their hunches ,upon Mats of Straw ,not un artfully made ,and perfectly neat and clean”(211-12),but the interesting point is that while calling him, they call him as A Yahoo ,the case mentioned and Gulliver’s sexual attraction to Houyhnhnm other, shows that he has metamorphesized to an other too. His becoming a yahoo, in a sexual term, and consequently, his becoming a female is considered as a rational and masculine act.”For now I could no longer deny, that I was a real yahoo, in every limb and feature, since the females has a natural propensity to me as me as one of their own species”(242).here we see the power of female sexuality to change everything.

If on the basis of John Barell comment ,in the mid eighteenth century masculinity meant having sexual intercourse not resisting it so here in the novel Gulliver is a female man ,in other words ,Gulliver’s refusal to have an intercourse with yahoos effeminates him ,and the matter goes on until his return to his home where he faces with an identity he had hoped to abandon ,since “by copulating with one of the Yahoo-species, I had become a parent of more; it struck me with the utmost shame, confusion and horror”(261).His masculinity in fact after his coming back to home is in danger; because, he encounters his wife who is as a child and similar to all women he has met during his travel those who are sexually obsessed. Gulliver as a matter of fact is similar to yahoos, but not in their failure in attraction to the women of their own races.

The forth voyage is a kind of rejection not just about the sexuality of Yahoo women but of English women sexuality too .there is always a kind of comparison between yahoo women and women of England, one can see the traces of it in for example Gulliver’s description of liliputians’ penmanship, and the comparison of it to an Englishwoman’s slanted scrawl as the sign of their both inferiority.

As a matter of separation between women of yahoos ,and English women the conclusion is that the difference between Englishwoman and laputian ones and between Queene Anne and queen Liliput ,between Gulliver ‘s wife and a yahoo are shattered and what remains is the general contempt for all and whole female race.

Obviously Gulliver as the voice of Swift himself, shows women as a kind of entity ,like Laputan women, capable of reason but not reasonable creatures, while the writer ,Mary Wollstonecraft ,in her Vindication of The Rights of Woman(1792),completely comprehend that enlightenment philosophers excluded women from having the power of thinking logically .in the Vindication she attacks at antifeminist satires, she really does her best to clean any traces of anti-feminism in 18th century, and in order to do so she uses the genre of satire to create a kind of “revolutionary woman”, rather than just an object for satire; in other words, women in her satires are those, who know everything and have the superiority to be above all the others. As a matter of fact she joins and at the same time dispenses with satiric femininity to maintain her position as a feminist.

In order to conclude, I should mention some ideas of Wollstonecraft; her feminism is in fact bound by racial discrimination. In Vindication, the kind of satiric status she describes is uninhabitable by the neither sex. Wollstonecraft creates servants, as Englishwomen having a strong desire toward dress, pleasure, etc. In her logic of polygamy African women are” of hotter constitution”(164) than American men and more sexualized than European of both sexes ,if we can consider eighteenth century feminism leading to racism, it also becomes a s an incarnation of a century, in which a female satirist can make uses of anti-feminist satire. What is so paradoxical is that for example in Wollstonecraft, hatred of women is a kind of feminism it self.

In Gulliver’s travels ,the female is connected to revenge, hysteria, physically shuddering in the first parts, and of course all the features are associated with Gulliver himself and as a consequence human race is portrayed such too .Gulliver’s tendency to have the Houyhnhnms logic is a kind of longing to order all masculine powers in order to escape the feminine .the ambiguous relation of Gulliver to females and sexuality, is one of the difficulties of feministic reading of the novel .Gulliver’s flexible consciousness because of its occasional alignment with women is appealing to feministic reading of the novel .Gulliver’s consciousness appeals to feminists because of its now and then different relations portrayed in the novel with women ,but all the elements of his satire limits the appeal . All in all, Gulliver’s satiric identity seems latent and unknown which can not easily described neither as woman nor man. Gulliver’s psychic world-traveling ,his different identities, reaches to a strong hatred toward humanity .A feministic reading of the novel shows Gulliver’s reinforcement and petrified disgust for women, as an object of his satire ,while at the same time Gulliver’s accompaniment with “others” makes possible to have a different reading of Gulliver’s travel.

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