Satire is the main stylistic device used by Moliere and Swift to unveil social problems and political troubles that affected their societies. In their works, Tartuffe and Gulliver’s Travel, Moliere and Swift depict social and political situations and ridicules the governmental system and false values existing in the society. Both works, Tartuffe and Gulliver’s Travel are unique because the author depicts events, experience, time, memories through different frames which are connected with each other.
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Moliere and Swift attack social institutions and false traditions and values followed by society. In Gulliver’s Travels Swift criticizes the government of England unveiling corruption of administration and incompetence of George I. Swift took an active part in political life and was involved with the Tory government, but in a time, the Whigs returned to power and brought the full force of government against Swift.
Taking into account these facts, it is possible to say that the novel “Gulliver’s Travels” is a commentary on those political and historical events. In parts one and two the little and big people, versions of two opposite English classes, show readers the relativity of Swift’s standards. Gulliver, a version of society, shows the essence of human motives. In Lilliput, while effortlessly admired and respected, he casually performs heroic exploits and insists on preserving a conquered people’s liberty (Williams 65).
In Tartuffe, Moliere pays special attention to the role of religion and church in the lives of people and its influence on the government. During his time, political and social life was influenced by church and religion, and Moliere demonstrates that there was a separation of culture, “high” culture of a social and intellectual elite and “low” culture of peasant, small and big people. At the end o the play, the officer explains:
Thus he rewards your recent zeal, displayed
In helping to maintain his rights and shows
How well his heart, when it is least expected,
Knows how to recompense a noble deed (Moliere 1998)
Similar to Moliere, Swift includes a conflict between Protestant and Catholic Christians through the Little Indians and the Big Indians. Describing the land of Brobdingnag, Swift portrays that Brobdingnagian King knows little about the art of ruling and political science, but this incompetence does not lead the country to a crisis. Brobdingnag is a prosperous and well-governed country in spite of the fact that the King does little to support the economic and social development of his land. Swift ridicules that the government of England was elected in the same foolish manner “whoever jumps the highest, without falling, succeeds in the office” (Swift, 1998).
Characterizing his period, Swift and Moliere satirize the government and the society using acute irony and sarcasm. In Gulliver’s Travels, an extensive part of the governmental actions returned to the identification between the political and religious worlds, with the belief that only political power can support the monarchy. It is possible to say that Moliere satirizes the government and the church using specific things and actions of characters.
For instance, the tide character deliberately abuses his rhetorical and theatrical skills in order to deceive those around him by a false display of religious behavior, which is what made the play so controversial in the 1660s. By way of defense, Molière suggests that he wrote the play in such a way as to prevent any confusion in the spectators’ minds: it would be clear to them all along that Tartuffe was a hypocrite, even if some of the characters in the play believed him to be sincere. In contort, Swift uses absurdity to unveil false values and traditions of the society (Williams 69).
For instance, Swift criticizes the immoral life of this new literary world, foreseeing the death of civilized values. His works vividly reflect his epoch portraying ineffective functions of the government and foolish decisions. Using satire and sarcasm, Swift shows the human necessity for survival and the lengths to which a person will go to save his life. Swift depicts real government life through the character of the King of Laputa. According to British law, the King could not leave the land without Parliament’s consent.
The King of Laputa was also subdued to this rule seeing as an “important person” who felt a lack of personal freedom and rights. Swift ridicules that common citizens of Laputa were free from social constraints in contrast to the King limited by his own power. Part three hits out in several directions: at colonial power, pedantry, and abstract learning.
Gulliver reaches an impasse when he meets the Struldbruggs, people exempt from natural death. In the novel, the King of Lilliput, a prototype of George I who favored the Whigs, wears the Low-Heals. Swift describes: “We apprehend his imperial highness, the heir to the crown, to have some tendency towards the high heels; at least we can plainly discover that one of his heels is higher than the other, which gives him a hobble in his gait” (Swift, 1998).
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Similar to Moliere and Swift, modern writers use satire as the main stylistic device to unveil social problems and issues. For instance, the Simpsons and Saturday night Live satirize social relations and class differences, unveil false morals of high classes and economic instability. In contrast to Moliere and Swift, they lack fire, animus, defined objective. The satiric tone and technique, in other words, have not reappeared. They restrict their material to a narrow range of society and events.
Moliere and Swift treat their material with such subtlety of observation and depth of penetration that they are ranked among the best of satirical writers. Modern writers use a simple argumentative method. They open with elaborate rhetoric, draw their principles from a social authority, then embellish arguments sardonically. Wealth is permissible only if its excess is distributed to the poor.
- Swift, J. Gulliver’s Travels. 1998. Web.
- Moliere, Tartuffe. 1998. Web.
- Williams, K. Jonathan Swift and the Age of Compromise. University Press of Kansas, 1968.
Don Quixote by, Cervantes.
In the novel Don Quixote, Cervantes depicts two opposite characters of Alonso Quixano and Sancho Panza. Don Quixote and Sancho are opposite personalities, each representing a different kind of sense. It is possible to say that Don Quixote is deprived “reason and the moral sense” of judgment and understanding, while Sancho possesses “reason” and “imagination”. Cervantes symbolically represents simple, contradictory elements rather than as complex and independent literary characters.
Physical differences and appearance allow Cervantes to unveil and underline different views and values of Don Quixote and Sancho. The long, thin, Grecoesque figure of Don Quixote underlines his nobility and idealism. Cervantes portrays that in the midst of the natural grandeur of the Sierra Morena, and, whether fighting windmills or wineskins, amongst goatherds or noblemen, hanging from his wrist or addressing the company gathered at the inn, he is always indisputably the center of attention.
Sancho, in contrast, is a fat rustic with a week-old beard, or a dark ogre from an oriental fairy tale. He is seen in the very first plate almost literally melting on his ass, his face a shapeless and grotesque ball. Don Quixote id depicted as a Romantic symbol, a heroic and idealistic figure whose laughable misadventures are turned into mythical feats. Cervantes portrays Sancho as buffoon and greedy villager of previous centuries, as a symbol of everything the Romantics considered ignoble, base, or earthy.
The main difference between the characters is perception of the world and human values: Don Quixote is depicted as idealist who believes in universal love, happiness and honesty while Sancho is depicted as a materialist who rejects human morality and values. Don Quixote says:
I may have won some kingdomthat has others dependent upon it, which will be just the thing to enable thee to be crowned king of one of them. “In that case,” said Sancho Panza, “if I should become a king by one of those miracles your worship speaks of, even Juana Gutierrez, my old woman, would come to be queen and my children infantes” (Cervantes 2000).
Both Sancho’s sense of humor and his good sense show palpably from the very beginning and remain unchanged, though obviously not constant, throughout the novel. Sancho never oversteps the fine border-line that separates what is harmlessly and amusingly funny from what is abusive or at the expense or to the detriment of another person or animal. There is a change in Sancho’s personality between Parts I and II. In the last chapters of Part I Don Quixote is depicted as a madman who needs to be caged, and most of his idealism of the early chapters has subsided; hence, Sancho’s good sense and love for his master become more evident.
Also, in Part II Cervantes’s other characters begin to appreciate and praise, if not fully understand all the complexities of, Sancho’s keen sense of humor. A more important reason for this more favorable image of Sancho projected by the text is a drastic structural change that Cervantes decided upon between the writing of the Parts. This change in the technique of the narration in some degree conditions the perception readers have of the characters. In contrast to Sancho, the main features of Don Quixote are excessive self-confidence, serious lack of self-knowledge, and blindness to the unbridgeable chasm that lies between stations in life and those to which he aspires.
The theme of idealism prevails in this novel unveiling true human values and eternal love, friendly relations and romance. Idealism is found in relations between Don Quixote and Sancho that binds master and squire together, their gradual adaptation to one another and to new or changing circumstances, and their sincere need of and love for the other. There are inconsistencies n the character of the squire, though one of the inconsistent traits is always clearly dominant.
Sancho is presented now as a thief and highwayman, then as honest and compassionate. His great love for his ass is at times non existent, as when Sancho uses him as a shield to avoid being stoned or hurt; none the less, he is eager to continue with his master despite the voice of common sense that gnaws at his mind. Don Quixote idealizes his love to Dulcinea and becomes extreme naive in matters of love, his relentless pursuit of preferment, and his blind confidence in his nonexistent qualifications for office, all of which remind one of Sancho. Wanting to make “a world of his own”, he becomes a victim of this ego and dreams. His ambition to possess is ironically paralleled by a process of deep loss; his desire to expand his dreams is undercut by a process of systematic denudation (Eisner 43).
In real life, ideals and dreams allow us to achieve success and realize our desires. On the other hand, a person should avoid illusions and false ideals which can cause frustrations and desperation. Illusion is a distorted perception of reality and false interpretation of reality. Moral idealism of this sort keeps well in the heart of the adolescent, responsibility and change, and the equivocality and impermanence of human affairs have impressed the mind.
Idealism is not a a bad thing because it helps to follow humanistic values, a moral philosophy. A person can follow dreams and ideals if he/she is sure about their realization or if these false (unachievable) dream do not ruin life and destiny of a person. Simple ideals underlie decent behavior and dramatize the truths of the human heart. For instance, romantic idealism can suggest passion and true love, happiness and universal values. In order to avoid illusions, a person should take into account his/her past and plan his/her future in accordance with life chances and visible perspectives.
- Cervantes, M. Don Quixote. 2000. Web.
- Eisner, W. The Last Knight: An Introduction to Don Quixote. Yale University Press, 2005.