Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Kallich, Martin, 1918-2006

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Swift; Jonathan; 1667-1745. Gulliver's travels


Whether Gulliver's Travels includes religious satire is a matter of controversy. This paper attempts to resolve the problem. First, the phrase "religious satire" is defined. "Religious" is used in its broadest sense to suggest not only formal religion as thought of in terms of a church per se. including its customs, rituals, and doctrines, but also the broader, deeper, more philosophical implications of the word. "Satire" is used to refer to Swift's righteous indignation at his perception that ideals had become corrupted. Swift's sermon "On the Trinity" is dealt with in detail in order to explain Swift's fundamental religious convictions, important because they affect Gulliver's Travels. Among these convictions is his orthodox acceptance of "implicit belief." Swift's fundamental religious convictions which have the greatest effect on Gulliver's Travels are his belief in the doctrines of the Trinity, original sin, the authority of the Holy Scriptures, and the Divinity of Christ. In Gulliver's voyage to Lilliput Swift often satirizes religious sects. Religious doctrine as the source of conflict is satirized in the Big-Endian versus Little-Endian allegory. In this voyage, however, religious satire is of secondary importance to political satire. The primary targets of Swift's satire in Gulliver's voyage to Brobdingnag are corruptions of religious ideals. Especially vehement is Swift’s justified attack on unworthy and corrupt bishops. From Gulliver's conversation with the King of Brobdingnag we can infer that Swift believes in the basic goodness of the Anglican Church despite the revolting corruptions of its ministers. In Gulliver's voyage to Laputa and other islands, Swift gives vent to his animosity toward the dissenting Dutch. A passage from one of Swift's sermons is quoted to show a parallel for the crucifix-trampling episode. The importance of the Struldbruggian immortality episode is stressed on grounds of both structure and theology. The voyage to Houyhnhnmland is perhaps the most important as well as the most controversial voyage of Gulliver's Travels. Swift's religious beliefs as discussed in the first part of this paper are drawn upon to demonstrate that Swift cannot possibly be equated with the gullible Gulliver who is an immediate convert to the "religion" of the deistic Houyhnhnms. The forty-nine instances of religious satire listed in the appendix to the paper do, I feel, support the thesis that there is significant religious satire present in Swift's Gu1liver's Travels.


Includes bibliographical references.


iii, 90 pages




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