Saturday, February 6, 2010


I found Swift's focus on raising children throughout Books 1 & 2 particularly interesting. He explains the method of education for both the Lilliputians and the Brobdingnagians, and in each society, the sexes are separated from each other and from their parents and taught different things. The Lilliputians "will never allow that a Child is under any Obligation to his Father for begetting him, or to his mother for bringing him into the World" because their "Thoughts in their Love-encounters were otherwise employed" (54). Gulliver's observations in Lilliput remove the idea of succession and honoring one's lineage from the tiny society, but based on our discussion of indirect satire in this book and the idea that Swift is drawing an allegory between Lilliput and England, is he saying that one should be concerned with the family line? This seems odd given the recent formation of the Anglican Church and schism in religion, which was caused by the King's desire for a male heir in order to continue his reign. The Brobdingnagians focus on "Morality, History, Poetry and Mathematicks," and their young are trained for their station in society, which is determined by their parents. The Brobdingnagians focus on the concrete application of their learning to ensure their survival and that of their nation rather than aspiring to philosophical ideas. I think this provides a more accesibile criticism of England and both involve the relationship of parents and children. Both seem to argue that children's fate should be determined/affected by their parents, simultaneously removing social mobility from each society. What kind of parent-child relationship does Swift desire?

1 comment:

  1. I also find that Swift's portrayal of education is an interesting topic in these first two sections. Gulliver remarks that the Brobdingnagian educational system is very defective as they only learn practical knowledge rather than more refined artistic concepts that the British model gives more importance to. He states, "And as to Ideas, Entities, Abstractions and Transcendentals, I could never drive the least Conception into their heads." Swift is clearly showing the defectiveness of the British system rather than the Brobdingnag system, as Gulliver fails to adapt to his predicaments using the knowledge he has about abstract ideas, and the Brobdingnags laugh when he tries to explain himself.