Gulliver's Travels

Layers of Criticism
The framework of the novel, Gulliver’s Travels, provides several examples of satire, from strong and ironic claims to witty, comedic descriptions, alluding to much stronger social criticisms. Jonathan Swift purposely creates a narrator to filter his harsh criticism towards European culture, while he also gives a lot of attention to Gulliver’s subtle changes as a person throughout the novel. Although Swift’s satiric nature is not always obvious in the text, Gulliver’s instability and naivety become more evident as the novel continues, which significantly weaken his reliability as the narrator. Swift does not only try to convey his own criticisms through him, but Gulliver, himself, also reinforces some of the same ideas Swift is attacking throughout his travels. As we observe the insecurities and challenges that Gulliver faces during his voyages, we identify with him less as a person, and realize that our understanding of his adventures are based off of observations during his downward spiral towards his hatred for humanity. Swift’s satiric criticisms, in addition to Gulliver’s self interest and skewed perception of human nature, establish the structure of the unclear narration, which both impact the way we interpret Gulliver’s insights from his journey in comparison to the understanding of Swift’s satiric parallels. Jonathan Swift creates several layers of satire in Gulliver’s Travels with his ironic tone and clever use of Gulliver, not only as a filter to reference his own satiric criticisms, but also as a direct object of satire himself to characterize Gulliver as an unreliable narrator.
Swift creates the narrator as an undeveloped character to criticize Gulliver’s own perception of himself and his lack of understanding among the many places he visits, to subtlety draw our attention towards his opinions about the English. Gulliver’s self-interest, ignorance, naivety, and arrogance are all traits that Swift uses to criticize his...