Monday, February 8, 2010

Anthropological Perspective/Colonialism

Throughout "Gulliver's Travels" I have been intrigued by the abstracts at the beginning of each chapter. A brief, emotionless description is given of the events as if they are viewed objectively even though Gulliver is nothing but involved and biased in the situations. The content of each book makes it clear that the facts are not true, but the abstracts seem to imply that the reader should judge the information and assess its validity. The brief descriptions also involve Gulliver, which implies that we should also analyze his behavior and thoughts. The novel becomes Swift's experiment as he explores his ideal society.

I was also fascinated by the complete deviation from the theme of altered sizes to another change in perspective based on animalism. While the previous books seemed to criticize the colonialism and voyeurism of Great Britain, this book seems to imply that the "yahoos" (which I think represent the natives, "uncivilized," people of other lands) should be subjugated because of their baser instincts. Perhaps I am misunderstanding the issue or have not looked at the role reversal of horses and people in each setting, but it seems that this book supports colonialism?

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