Gulliver and other monkeys : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English Literature at Massey University

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Massey University
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The distinctions between tragedy, satire and comedy, as with the lines severing madness from genius, are blurred and uncertain. The purpose of this essay is to further smudge, and where possible to erase, the artificial divisions within these two sets of notions, and thereby create more confusion. Throughout I shall refer to the life and work of Swift, and in particular Gulliver's Travels, as neat examples of the chaos intrinsic in these diverse, yet related, concepts. As Aristotle exemplified the principle of the tragic, using Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannos, saving why it is sad or tragic in his opinion, so I hope to say why I feel Gulliver's Travels to be predominantly funny or comic, and attempt to explain the principle of the comic in a like manner, with digression upon other works as has seemed appropriate to the illustration of the subject. Throughout I shall use the term 'comedy' in its broader sense, as referring to the comic, rather than in its technical sense of comic drama.
Swift, Jonathan, 1667-1745, Gulliver's travels, Criticism and interpretation