Allegory and Satire in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels

Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" is not merely the story of "Gulliver's Travels" visits to the four islands but it tells something more significance. Some critics interpret the work as an allegory and also as a political satire. Firstly, an allegory is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning has a moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas as charity, greed, or envy. Thus an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning. Moreover, writers use allegory to add different layers of meanings to their works. Allegory makes their stories and characters multidimensional, so that they stand for. Allegory allows writers to put forward their moral and political point of views. A careful study of an allegorical piece of writing can give us an insight into its writer's mind as how he views the world and how he wishes the world to be. Secondly, satire is an attack on or criticism of any stupidity or vice in the form of scathing humor, or a critique of what the author sees as dangerous religious, political, moral, or social standards. Satire became an especially popular technique used during the Enlightenment, in which it was believed that an artist could correct folly by using art as a mirror to reflect society. When people viewed the satire and saw their faults magnified in a distorted reflection, they could see how ridiculous their behavior was and then correct that tendency in themselves.
On the one hand, “Gulliver’s Travels” is an allegorical work. This allegory has been divided into four sections referring to four voyages of the protagonist Gulliver. Gulliver gives the detailed account of his visits to four different islands and tells about the various experiences he had undergone during the visits. He meets different people on different islands and studies their lifestyles. In other words, everything in it cannot be taken literally except by children. The mature reader will understand that swift has a serious moral purpose in writing those accounts of the voyages of Gulliver to different lands. An allegory conveys its meaning in a hidden manner not in an obvious manner. The real meaning, in an allegory does not lie on the surface but is hidden below the surface which we must probe swift is here mocking at the way human things behave. We find in the book a merciless exposure of different categories and classes of people – kings, queens, politicians, lawyers, physicians, scientists, and others. There is hardly any institution in the civilized life of the European countries that escapes the scrutiny and the scathing criticism of swift much of the condemnation of human society and human institutions is expressed in comic terms, but much of it is offensive and corrosive.
The voyage to Liliput in part-1 of the book contains the story of Gulliver’s shipwreck and his early adventures among the pigmies. In this part, as soon as swift turns to describe the politics of Liliput, that country ceases to be a kind of utopia and becomes the England of swift’s time. A Lilliputian lord tells Gulliver: “We labor under two mighty evils – a violent faction at home and the danger of an invasion by a most potent enemy from abroad”. The Lilliputian lord goes on to refer to the two struggling parties one party distinguished by its high - heeled shoes and the other by its low - heeled shoes. The reference obviously is to the High church and Low Church parties, or the Tories and the Whigs. The potent enemy from abroad is the island of Blefuscu which stands for France with whom England had been engaged in an obstinate struggle for a whole generation. Thus, the story of Gulliver’s first voyage becomes a kind of political allegory. The Emperor of Liliput would in that case be a portrayal of Gearge-1 who is a supporter of the Whigs by his determination to make use of only low-heels in the administration to the government and himself wearing heels lower than any member of his court. The parallel is emphasized by