Therefore, we can see Jonathan Swift had created a reflection of the political situation of Britain, especially in characters and the party politics in the context of early 18th Century England.
In part IV of Gulliver’s Travels, A Voyage to the Land of the Houyhuhnms, Gulliver has his forth voyage as a captain of his own ship and he is mutinied and abandoned by his crew. He is abandoned on an island, later in the chapters reviewed as the Land of Houyhnhnms. He encounters two different kinds of creature on the island.
First, the talking intelligent horse, the Houyhnhnms second, the barbarous savage, the Yahoos. According to Yeomans, Jonathan Swift used the Houyhnhnms as the tool for demonstrating his satirical idea and his Utopian concept. (Yeomans, 449-454) In part IV of Gulliver’s Travels, we can see Jonathan Swift used the juxtaposition between the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos, also Gulliver to create an irony, a satire to the so-called “humanity” and “civilization” in the European Countries, especially the Great Britain, actually were hypocrites. In the Gulliver’s Travels, the Houyhnhnms are presented as the ideal image of the human and their forms of extreme rational society demonstrated what an ideal society the human should have while on the other hand, the barbarous Yahoos are presented as the savage, bestial and irrational side of humanity.
It created an inversion imagery of England that horses are civilized, human-beings are uncivilized. It is ironical to mock the pride of humanity and human civilization. Through the conversation between Gulliver and the master of Houyhnhnms, we can see a juxtaposition between the early 18th Century Britain politics, society and civilization.In part IV, Gulliver talks about the reason for war and violence in human civilization. “Sometimes the ambition of princes, who never think they have land or people enough to govern sometimes the corruption of ministers…” (Swift) It is to compare the Utopian style of rationality and the twisted rationality in the human civilization. And created a sense of irony to the so-called “civilized” society in the European countries. Therefore, in Swift Gulliver’s Travels, we can clearly see the intention of using the travel tales to be a satirical device to mend the world, to expose and attack the ridiculous in the world.
Apart from the Gulliver’s Travels, the essay anonymously written by Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal is another example of Swift’s satire in exposing the ridiculous in the early 18th Century England. According to Boyle, A Modest Proposal is different from other satire Swift written since it is a pamphlet written specifically to satire and expose the mischief of the English in ruling Ireland, the exploitation, embargo and the religion suppression in the early 18th Century by writing a proposal of solution to the worsening situation in Ireland. (Boyle 198-203) In the beginning of the proposal, the writing style is formal and demonstrated a reasonable thought. The writing first described the pathetic and it brought up the arguments to the urgency of solving the problem in Ireland.
However, the sense of rational argument is fading when the essay goes on to the suggestion. In the essay, Swift argues that the children are the cause of the poverty, hunger and overpopulated Ireland. Therefore, the solution starts from dealing with the children but in nonsense. It is written, “It is true a Child, just fropt from it’s Dam, may be supported by her milk, for a Solar year with little other nourishment, at most not above the Value of two Shillings” Human life started to be valued by money, even the mothers are described as “breeders”.
The children are described as livestock, reviewing that the solution is to promote human cannibalism. It is written, “I do therefore humbly offer it to puvlick consideration…these children are seldom Fruits of Marriage, a Circumstance not much regarded by our Savages, therefore, one Male will be sufficient to serve four Females…always advising the Mother to let them Suck plentifully in the last Month, so as to render them plum, and Fat for a good Table.” The essays even provide dinning suggestion to eating children. “A Child will make two Dishes at an Entertainment for friends…the fore or hind Quarter will make a reasonable Dish, and seasoned with a little Pepper or Salt will be very good Boiled on the fourth Day,” The exaggerated Juvenalian satire is fully exposed in the suggestion of the essay. The inhuman and uncivilized solution is to create an irony to the British mischief in ruling Ireland, leading to the decay of Ireland in the early 18th Century. In conclusion, the quote, “It is difficult not to write satire” is adequately demonstrated by Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and ‘A Modest Proposal’ written in the 18th Century, in an indirect and hidden way in other forms of literature in exposing and attacking the ridiculous in the world and to express the discontent and unjust of the current society.