Specific Features of the Neoclassical Age in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels
Orhero Mathais Iroro(08130890991)
Every literary work must fall into a canonical tradition. A canonical tradition is marked by the socio-political and historical milieu of a particular period and the texts that are found in the canon are usually reflective of the society and time which it was published. No work of art exists in a vacuum and there must be an antecedent that engendered the work. A balanced study of any work of art must involve not only the textual component but the historical trajectory which mothered the text. It is in lieu of this that Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels will be analyzed based upon the known facts about the period which it was written.
The Neoclassical period of English literature is a canon which spans from the restoration of King Charles II in 1660 to the birth of Romanticism in 1798. This period is marked as the great age of satire. The rebirth and imitation of classical works was the major foci point of this period. This period has also been regarded as the Augustan or Neo-Augustan age, the age of sensibility, the age of reason, etc. The works produced within this literary canon advocate for reason over feelings. This age also marked the standardization of prose fiction in English literature. Writers like John Dryden, Jonathan Swift, William Wycherley, William Congreve, Oliver Goldsmith, Daniel Defoe, George Farquhar, William Davenant, Thomas Killigrew, Samuel Johnson, amongst others were the major writers during this period.
As earlier aforementioned, all literary texts must exhibit the tendencies of the period which it was created. Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is one of the works which can be used to understand the psychology and philosophy of the Neoclassical period. Gulliver’s Travels falls under the category of works known as traveller’s tales which was a prominent manifestation of this period. It...