Comprised of four parts, Gulliver’s Travels documents the bizarre, yet fascinating voyages of Lemuel Gulliver as he makes his way through several uncharted destinations, experiencing the lives of the small, the giant, the scientific, and downright eccentric societies. Narrated in first person, Swift successfully portrays Gulliver’s thoughts and reactions as he faces struggles of integration throughout his travels.
Beginning with the introduction of Gulliver, an educated ship’s surgeon, who after a series of unfortunate events is victim to repeated shipwrecks, desertions, and set adrift. His first of several misadventures sees him washed up on the shores of Lilliput, home to the less than six inches tall Lilliputians, where he wakes up to the sounds of scurrying beneath him. However, roles are reversed when his misfortunes lead him to Brobdingnag, a land occupied by giants where he must experience life as an inferior and fragile being. Subsequently, he comes across a society of oppressive theoreticians, and finally an intellectual, superior race. Divided between the known and the unknown, Gulliver must put aside his prejudgments and experience the unfamiliar societies first hand. As the novel gradually progresses, the transformation of the narrator becomes evident as he draws conclusions from each and every one of his adventures.
Written by the master of satire, Jonathan Swift has not only created a story of adventure, but also cunningly attacks the mere nature of society in between its lines. Abuse of power, criticism of human nature, politics, and individualism are just some of the themes explored during the enlightening journeys of the venturesome Gulliver. Swift’s witty use of metaphors and satirical style serves as a puzzle waiting to be solved. An adventure story for the young, but a critical piece for the mature, the novel has a bit of everything and appeals to all age groups. The details in which the locations are described, the escapism it offers, and its openness to interpretation is what makes Gulliver’s Travels a timeless piece of literature.