A Theme Of Science In Gulliver’s Travels By Johnathan Swift

According to Johnathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels, science is a subject where it is not just about testing natural phenomena, but it is also about being conscientious as to why it is being tested in the first place. Having no knowledge, but only testing, makes the whole point of science useless. Smith values science as something more useful, involving facts and reasoning. In Gulliver’s Travels Part III, Gulliver favors his own country, even though he is a surgeon on a boat, traveling from one country to another and exploring each country while doing so. He seems highly interested in science and projects he has observed. He has noticed the qualitative and quantitative facts that resulted from the experiment, as well as objective and logical reasoning that went along with them. Even the Royal Society Academy in England started promoting the use of facts and reasoning with their scientific research. Throughout Gulliver’s Travels, Swift demonstrates science in his use of diction, narrative voice, and genre.

Gulliver’s Travels is known as a satire. Lemuel Gulliver is described as “a moderately well-educated man, kindly, resourceful, cheerful, and patriotic”. As Gulliver continues to travel, he lands in Lagado, and the first thing he goes to is the Royal Academy of Lagado. It is a building with many parts. Professors would make things less hands-on in a designated building. In that building, there would be about 500 scientists or professors in certain areas. Gulliver entered one area, in particular, with a teacher to student ratio of 1 to 40. The students were working on a project that appeared pointless to him. One individual was creating a framed wall of verbs, vowels, and nouns that helped the professor and students communicate better with each other.

That is the moment diction became part of the issue of science. When communicating, people need the right tools. The professor explained to Gulliver that the student “emptied the whole vocabulary into his frame, and made the strictest computation of the general proportion there is in the books between the numbers of particles, nouns, and verbs, and other parts of speech”. This professor’s students come in six hours each day to put this frame together. In order to do this, students have to create words that can be used to make different sentence. This project started with the goal of making “a philosophical language that would eliminate the treacherous disparity between words and things and thus allow accurate scientific discourse”. The scientist in this excerpt was to make up a philosophical language for the Royal Society. The narrator’s choice of words in this excerpt showed that even though Gulliver was interested in the various “projects” and different professors, and learning new facts, he was still bored. He thinks he is different than the other individuals he visits while traveling.

In fact, Gulliver displays his point of view throughout all “four voyages”. He does this by describing his personal experiences in first person by using the pronouns “I, me, you, we, and us.” Therefore, Gulliver’s Travels uses a narrative voice throughout the entire book. In fact, the excerpt starts off with “I“. That is because Gulliver wants to talk about his experiment, which is part of his character. Other people thinks he is stating unnecessary information, but he believes that it is a necessary part of science. Moreover, Gulliver’s character is important because he is not a flat character. His character is all over the place, giving the audience broader ideas about society. One example of this is to help others avoid “current and past events” throughout their lifetime. It is like telling the readers to have duleness, which is knowledge they thought they knew but did not. Also, it is feeding the audience knowledge they wish they would have known. Therefore, the new information sings in and lets go of the old information. This is telling the voice of his own that humans suck. According to Swift, there is no religion without science, and science is a religion to him.

Between 1710 and 1780, Gulliver visits the Royal Society Academy and the genre “Project” was a thing. However, the society changed it to Parody. This means these writers or artists imitate and exaggerate the adventures that Gulliver took. When reading this part of the book, they exaggerate on the use of scientists. Swift wants the audience to realize that society has more than that. For example, we have so many inventions and figures who have predicted future events. If people or scholars looked back at reports from our ancestry, they might make realizations after reading books about all of the magnificent changes that have happened. When knowing about something, one can possibly stop it from happening because they are aware of the consequences. All of these are observations of what was bound to happen later on. Swift saw these scientists, and he knew that they were fully aware of what they were doing. If anyone looked at these databases, they would not have had wars or troubles. This is a travelogue genre combined with a satire. Swift knows all the knowledge, but he does not want to say. On the other hand, he will allow you to see what Gulliver is doing or who he is surrounded by. Gulliver exaggerates when he sees himself surrounded by these scientists because he thinks he knows everything especially when he said, “if ever I had the good fortune to return to my native country, that I would do him justice, as the sole inventor of this wonderful machine; the form and contrivance of which I desired leave to delineate upon paper as in the figure here annexed”. This shows Gulliver feels like he is better than anyone who he comes across. He explains that he will have to have some sort of control over something, such as the machine. He states that people wished to have his knowledge and interest within these projects.

As a result, Swift was trying to convince the audience that science has more to it than just testing phenomena that occur in our lives. Gulliver goes off to four voyages and returns back to England in between those voyages. He thinks he is better than anyone in society and that the experiments by these scientists are useless. The narrator is telling the readers if we are blind to our flaws, then we have a sense of pride. Swift is trying to make us understand that life is so simple, and people do not look at knowledge as an important thing like they should. 

16 December 2021
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