J Swift a Great Dreamer of Utopia Part-I
Jonathan Swift was a great dreamer of Utopia, an imaginary land where every thing is so fine and orderly and not a misanthrope as he is alleged to be by a larger community of the critics. Utopia is a romantic satire of Sir Thomas More written in 1516. Though neither Swift does mention nor we can find any direct reference to More’s Utopia for its influence on his mind anywhere in his writing, the whole Europe was under its impact for a longer period to shape many people’s psychology.
Swift had a firm belief that man is rationis capax and therefore he should behave rationally. By this he meant that the man should uphold the dignity of morality and conscience. He should not be insensible at any platform. Swift’s navigation to different strange and totally unknown islands to the world is an effort to streamline different facets of man in general. He had the view that man is versatile and can create his society as he likes.
His psychology befits in the epithet of one of the social thinkers and my friend Jawaid Iqbal that: “Man is God of his soul”. By this he tries to draw the meaning that man is a responsible being; and that he is responsible for his behavior and character. His conscience is whatever he wants to make. Swift believed likewise. Any misbehavior or an insensible activity irritates him extremely.
Swift’s design works for a man who is powerful, but submits to the traditional convention and civic laws. Gulliver, Swift’s character in Gulliver’s Travels, is on the voyage onto the sea. He is captured by the Lilliputians the inhabitants of a strange island where he seeks safety when the ship he along with other navigators was voyaging was wrecked by a strong storm. He is chained down with threads and later is put under a cage. Gulliver is referred to as a ‘Man-Mountain’ there as the Lilliputians are of very small size of not more than ‘six Inches high’. The Man-Mountain has enough power to break through the chains of the thin threads and the cage does not make a confinement for him; he could escape from it easily. However, he submits but for the sake of civility.
He is of the view that men should not fight over trivial things like the Lilliputians fought on the controversy on how the eggs should be broken with the Blefuscudians. He thinks it is better, he finally delivers a rule himself: “That all true Believers shall break their Eggs at the convenient End” than fight on the matter.
Gulliver is loved by all the Lilliputians for his gentility and comely behavior. He entertains them with all his skill and thereby he gains a grand favor among them.
Though he is of the Super Size he is not plagued with false fallacy; neither he exclaims in luxury. Swift shows how men who claim to be civilized and gentle, are under falsity, they have unnecessarily longer names and titles to show they are great: the emperor of Lilliput has a long name- Golbarto Momaren Evlane Gurdilo Shefin Mully Ully Gue.
Gulliver helps the Lilliputians by all his strength in their fight against the Blefuscudians and in recognition of which he is conferred the highest award of the land by the king. Remarkably the Lilliputians or the little men, as Swift considers those who behave irrationally, are plagued with jealousy, conspiracy and awkwardness: Flimnap and Bolgodam are averse to the Man-Mountain’s popularity with the royalty (Chap 5: A Voyage to Lilliput) and conspire against him. Luckily Gulliver comes to know the secret of conspiracy against him: he was to be trialed for a high treason against the kingdom as he showed preference to visit Blesfuscu an enemy side of the Lilliputians. Meanwhile he escapes to Blesfuscu against which he had earlier fought. This is however a hint on the contemporary political situation of England. In 1715 four Tory former ministers were impeached because of political differences. Gulliver’s escape from the world of the little men the Lilliputians is parallel to his eescape of his native land to a safer exile in France.
Gulliver’s helpis confined not only to helping the Lilliputians from the war, he proves to be a great savior to many common men as well as royal members at the Imperial Palace of Lilliput when it was on fire. How foolish a behavior could harm the people is explicit in the character of a maid who slept with fire near her reading on a romantic novel. Doesn’t Swift notch at the carelessness and finds solace in presence of mind?
His prime motive behind writing the Gulliver’s Travels was to vex the world and not to wane and he is successful in his mission. Only in some places his explanation seems to be extreme for which some critics may libel him to be misanthrope but he is just on the contrary a great dreamer of Utopia and wants to see people behave rationally.