Satire on science in the ‘Book- III’ of Gulliver’s Travels.

Gulliver's Travels_1Answer: To remind people about the fundamental moral duties to society and fellow beings, Jonathan Swift has brought science in ‘Book- III’ of Gulliver’s Travels. In this book Swift satirizes the scientist’s science and the intellectuals. It does not mean that he was against scientific experiments. Many of Swift’s critics misunderstand when he ridicules scientist and science. He was adequately aware of the values of pure science. He has attacked science for a moral purpose. If we read, analyze and justify the third book of Gulliver’s Travels, we will be able to understand the fact.

Gulliver makes his third voyage to a flying land called Laputa which is a satire on science. It is governed by scientific rules rather than moral ones. As it is a flying land, it shows how far it is from the concrete values and reality. Thus Swift is not satirizing reason but the wrong use of reason. This is an island inhabited by men who are able to put their island into a progressive nation as they please. The Laputans’ pride in their scientific progress is quite vain since they are totally detached from common humanity, normal standard of life and reality.

The science that perverts man from his normal self and moral self is not wanted by Swift. The people of Laputa are very strange as regarding their shapes are faces. Their hands are all reclined whether to the right or the left. One of their eyes turns inward and the other directly up to the zenith. The first one signifies their engrossment in their own theories and abstract speculation. The latter shows their absorption in the stars and space. Their chief preoccupations are science, mathematics, astronomy and music. These intellectual pursuits make their outlook narrow and insensible. These pursuits engross even their practical life so much that they love their aesthetic sense. They express everything in terms of rhombus, circle and parallelograms so on. They are so unmindful and callous to the realities of life that their wives leave them to seek physical gratification. In this regard we can remember the wife of the prime minister who lives with a footman.

Next we find Gulliver in Lagado, the capital city of Balinbarbi. He finds no difference between Laputa and Lagado. The people of Lagado are also run by the system of science. Here he visits the Academy of Projectors where he finds a man who has been engaged in a project for eight years for extracting sun beam out of cucumbers and finds another man who has been employed for a long time to restore human excrement to its original food and other meaningless projects. But Gulliver is quite surprised that although the people are starving, the lands are left uncultivated. By mentioning the absurd experiments, Swift has created an atmosphere of useless activities, aimless researches, perverted causes and distorted reason.

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Here swift is pointing out the crimes committed against humanity. The moral teaching of Swift is that intellectual pursuit is not governed by self-control and humanitarian zeal for public care. The scientist will easily forget his moral responsibility. They will think for thinking sake, not for human sake. They will work only to satisfy their vanity causing a huge loss of money, energy and time. These kinds of activities are sure to be destructive and damaging to human potentialities.

Swift is very much realistic when we see that the progress of science ushers in a moral decadence. With the advancement of science the age of Swift began to lose her ground on moral strength. Swift portrays this moral decadence with the example of the immoral life of the Laputan women.

Swift also satirized the astronomical researches of his time without becoming aware of the future success of the astronomers in exploring different stars and planets and ascending the moon. Moreover, he ridiculed those scientists who pretended to be scientists but they are actually vain, dull and non-creative.

In conclusion, it is clear that Swift’s satire on science is perfectly realistic. He feels that science deserves moral contempt for its neglect of social and moral duties. Therefore, he condemns it by witty manipulation of the scientists and their experiments which amuse us. He perfectly exposes the futility of the scientific activities which are far from reality of life.

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