Gulliver's Travels

Shooting Himself in the Foot: How Jonathan Swift's Satirical Genius Prevents Him from Changing the World

Shooting Himself in the Foot: How Jonathan Swift's Satirical Genius Prevents Him from Changing the World

"Satyr is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's Face but their Own; which is the chief Reason for the kind of Reception it meets in the World, and that so very few are offended with it."

-Jonathan Swift

Satire has had a long and illustrious history as the medium for intellectuals who find human society lacking. Vexed by human folly and vice, satirists employ sarcasm, wit, and irony to reveal the faults of the world in the hopes of inducing change. One of the most noted satirists of all time, Jonathan Swift, aimed to do just this with his work, Gulliver's Travels. Throughout his lifetime, Swift was an active politician and clergyman, devoting much of his energy and writings to social issues. Although he was by no means a revolutionary, he hoped that his novel would "wonderfully mend the World" (Swift 14) and at the very least convince more people to adopt his ideas.

History tells us that despite Swift's intentions, his story did not have as great an effect as he wanted . Certainly it was a controversial book that was simultaneously acclaimed, disparaged, and...

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