Monday, April 13, 2009

What Happens when Things mean other Things?

Robocop wasn’t the only action story that I’d seen used to depict a satire. The two other satires that I specifically remember come from many high schools throughout the United States. Both The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as well as Gulliver’s Travels represent something more than the actual story they are presenting. Just as Robocop warns against the events that are ruining society in the time the film took place so are these two novels.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is satirical in its attitude towards southern antebellum society. Throughout the novel Huckleberry Finn fights the moral standards which are thrust upon him by the society in which he lives. He knows his friend, Jim, is a runaway slave but he refuses to sell Jim out because he knows that deep down Jim is a wonderful person that only wants to see his family. Huck has to make the conscious decision to condemn himself for doing something that he sees as horribly wrong and more than likely the largest sin he could commit. However, upon further inspection it can be concluded that what Huck does is morally courageous and upstanding. Huck helps the reader see that it isn’t the fact that everyone else thinks an idea is right that makes it right, but the fact that in the deepest part of his soul he knows what he is doing is right. Huck Finn demonstrates that a sound heart is a surer guide than an ill-trained conscience. Just as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn criticized the antebellum south, Gulliver’s Travels focuses on the human self, and man’s inescapable need for vice.

Gulliver first travels to the kingdom of Lilliput. Lilliput is supposed to satirize King George I and his court. The feuding between the Lilliputians and the Blefuscudians is meant to represent the feuding countries of England and France, but the reason for the war – a disagreement over how to crack their eggs – is meant to satirize the absurdity and differences of the feud between Catholics and Protestants. Here, Gulliver is charged with treason and sentenced to be blinded. With the assistance of a kind friend, Gulliver escapes to Blefuscu, where he spots and retrieves an abandoned boat and sails out to be rescued by a passing ship which takes him back home. Gulliver, throughout the novel, travels to other countries just like Lilliput in the fact that there is something highly wrong with the state of the country. Ultimately Gulliver’s Travels is a play on the idea of humanity. As the novel progresses Gulliver becomes disheartened by the state of the world around him. Ultimately arriving at the home of the Houyhnhnms. These creatures are significant because they are horses that rule humans. The humans are vice-stricken creatures that are made to be chained to stop them from harming themselves in their own stupidity. Gulliver is destroyed as a person after meeting the Houyhnhnms because he can no longer look at the human race without seeing a disgusting animal incapable of self-control.


  1. I like both examples. Do you feel like the satire is better conveyed through text or film? Or does it make a difference?

  2. I've always liked the way Gulliver's Travels satirizes us as humans. Much of what it says about us still holds true today. However, I've always had a slight problem with his section on Laputa. He claims that empirical review causes our intelligence to degrade over time, but I feel it to be a good method to examine the world.

  3. I thought about doing Huck Fin, but I really didn't read it all. The cracking the egg thing is kind of like Dr. Seuss' The Butter Battle Book ( The feud is because they butter the bread differently.

    I do think though that some people do become more disheartened the longer they live, or at least I know I have.