Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gulliver's Travels Part Two

Well, it's almost time for part 3 of theGulliver's Travels read-a-long hosted by Allie at A Literary Odyssey and I'm just now writing about part one. I've had a crazy time personally, with both my husband and I looking for and accepting new jobs. I just turned in my resignation today and ugh, is that not a fun thing to do. I'm very excited about my new job though. However, all of the job searching, applying, interviewing, portfolio preparing, and stress has put a big dent into both my reading and blogging time. I hope to be a little more consistent soon, although settling into a new job will probably eat into some of that time too, especially since I will now have a longer commute. I'll be working downtown though, so I'm actually excited about that transition.

Anyway, on to Gulliver's Travels. Part two has Gulliver travelling to Brobdingnang, the land of the giants. It's a foil to the first part, so Gulliver goes from feeling like a giant to feeling like a Honey I Shrunk the Kids tiny person. It's interesting because he never changes, but others' perspective of him changes, which leads to a change in his own perspective.

The scene that always sticks with me from this section is rather crude. Gulliver is describing on of the giant women. He describes seeing a woman breast feeding with her six foot breast. Seeing the breast was so disgusting to him because he could see all of the imperfections and it just looked monstrous. I think it sticks with you because it's such a vivid image, and it's unexpected. Gulliver then goes on to say that it makes him think about his normal English ladies, and how they appeal beautiful because they are proportionate to him and therefore he can't spot all the tiny flaws in their skin for example, whereas the giants skin looks completely uneven, spotted with holes, and they smell gross. He then reflects on the fact that he found the Lillputians to be infinitely beautiful, probably because they were so small compared to him he couldn't see any flaws clearly. It's all about perspective. That also applies to how people treat him, with the Lilliputians viewing him as a weapon and the Brobdingnagians thinking he's a circus sideshow.

My favorite part of this section, however, is more political. Gulliver describes the politics and history of England, proud and boastful of his magnificent empire. The king of Brobdingnag thinks is laughable, at first because of his size and then because of his descriptions. After describing everything, Gulliver expects the king to be impressed, but instead he has several great quotes, including this one: "You have clearly proved that Ignorance, Idleness, and Vice are the proper Ingredients for qualifying a Legislator. That Laws are best explained, interpreted, and applied by those whose Interest and Abilities lie in perverting, confounding, and eluding them."

Um, how perfectly does that describe modern day America? America was still a colony at the time Swift wrote, and yet he nails it right on the head. Those are statements that are unfortunately true throughout history, through (probably) every country. Even those this is a negative example, this is one of the things I love most about reading. It's seeing how similar we are all, regardless of time and place. I also love reading about our differences, but the examples of sameness reminds me that we're all people. The Irish and English, the Protestants and the Catholics, the Lilliputians and the Brobdingnagians, they're all people.

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