Gulliverís Travels


What characterizes the perfect society? Since the beginning of time, theorists, kings, philosophers, scientists, and authors have discussed this topic at length. Thomas More, Francis Bacon, and Jonathan Swift are some such authors that seek to answer this question in their respective works, all of which contain fictional societies representative of the author\'s personal beliefs regarding idealistic communities. Thomas More creates his Utopia by eliminating all private property as a means to eradicate pride - the ultimate vice of human nature. Francis Bacon\'s The New Atlantis, establishes a society grounded in scientific discovery and ruled by an omnipotent, elitist group of scientists. Jonathan Swift is similar to More and Bacon, as in his greatest work, Gulliver\'s Travels, Swift creates fictional worlds, containing Swift\'s ideas regarding the perfect society. As readers, we can gain much insight into Swift\'s beliefs on a perfect society, as well as through his satire of English society. When Swift creates Lilliput, the first world that Gulliver travels to, Swift establishes a fantastic world typifying England at the time that Swift was writing. In creating Lilliput, Swift attempts to convey his beliefs pertaining to a perfect society; for this reason Lilliput is a better world than the world in which Gulliver lives. Some aspects of Lilliput represent Swift\'s ideas concerning the makeup of a perfect society, while peculiar aspects of Lilliput are present in order to establish a basis for critique of the English society in which Swift lived.


In chapter six of Gulliver\'s voyage to Lilliput, the description of the Lilliputian\'s society is found. The world that Swift creates in part one is a better world than the world from which Gulliver hails because Swift includes aspects he deems necessary for a perfect society.


The importance of education and the strong emphasis on fine moral behavior are two major characteristics that Swift values as imperative for a perfect society. Education in the Lilliputian society is indispensable. All children in the society are educated with the exception of those children who are sons and daughters of farm workers. They are not educated because, "their education is of little consequence to the public" (Gulliver\'s Travels, 99). Nonetheless, Swift stipulates that the needy are treated well in Lilliput, as exemplified by the hospitalization of the elderly and sick (Gulliver\'s Travels, 99).


Quite different from Gulliver\'s home in England, the women of Lilliput are educated. Swift presents Gulliver\'s observations regarding the education of women in Lilliput when he writes, "neither did I perceive any difference in their education, made by their difference of sex, only that the exercises of the females were not altogether so robust, and that some rules were given them relating to domestic life, and a smaller compass of learning was enjoined them: for their maxim is, that among people of quality, a wife should be always a reasonable and agreeable companion, because she cannot always be young" (Gulliver\'s Travels, 98-99). Though the reason for educating women in Lilliput is not as sound as the method by which they are educated, nonetheless, the fact that Swift included women in the educational system is truly innovative. The reason that women are educated in the Lilliputian society is for the benefit of her husband. Swift writes that once a woman is no longer young and beautiful, she must be witty and a good companion, so that she can at least satisfy her husband in company. Further, the fact there is little difference between the education that men and women receive is also unprecedented. The differences that do exist in education between the men and women in Lilliput are that women\'s exercises are not as difficult as men; women are taught rules for domestic life while men are not; the scope of education for women is less than that of the men. These differences exist because men and women had different life vocations in Lilliput as the man was head of the household, and the women fulfilled a domestic life. Since women were educated for the welfare of their husbands, they did not need to be as fully educated as their husbands. At this time in England women were not allowed to be educated. Rather, women only learned how to maintain a household and satisfy their domestic existence.