The Child-like Scientist: A Study of the Similarities Between Jonathan Swifts' Gulliver's Travels and Voltaire's Candide in Reference to Satire Developed through Naivete
A child has the ability to make the most critical and objective observation on society and the behavior of man. How is this possible? A child has yet to mature and lacks proper education and experience. However, it is for this very reason that a child would make the perfect social scientist; his or her naivete may provide an excellent means of objective criticism and most often satire. A child's curious nature and hunger for knowledge would bring about an unbiased questioning of social structures, minus the brainwashing of these very institutions, and his or her vulnerability would expose any societal dangers present. This child-like scientist would see the truth as it is.
This same premise may be applied to literary works. A naive character or narrator may be used as a child-like scientist, who reveals social truths to the audience through his or her naivete. As Maurois has noted, in writing about Candide, by Voltaire," It was novel of apprenticeship, that is, the shaping of an adolescent's ideas by rude
contact with the universe" (101). Jonathan Swift also takes this approach in his work Gulliver's Travels, where Gulliver, the main character, provides a naive point of reference.
The satires Gulliver's...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 1040 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 8042 literature essays, 2253 sample college application essays, 348 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in