Notes for Book III of Gulliverís Travels
Part III criticizes manís overwhelming pride in the capacity of the human intellect to deal with all human problems. Intellect without the use of reason and common sense and morals leads to impractical schemes. We must recognize the limitations of human intellect or we are victims of pride.
Science at the time was experiments that were diagrammed but not carried out. This is what Swift satirized. The flying island was Swift satirizing manís desire to fly. Swiftís reference to the academy was what was going on in England at the time. Swift attacks the mystification of science. He criticizes the mathematicians because they deny the useful forms of the science. They cut their food into geometric shapes but they donít use right angles in their homes. What use is this science. Swift believed that science should ultimately benefit man.
The island is Swiftís symbol for science. The fact that it flies symbolizes the reach of science. It is a negative symbol because it is used negatively. Ultimately, this great scientific contraption is too fragile. Swift is saying that there is no ethical or useful base for the island. To be able to criticize the applied sciences one must have an understanding of the sciences. Swift has such an understanding. He doesnít criticize science out of hand. He believed science had a use. Ultimately, for Swift, ethics came first.
Flappers - harmful effects of abstruse speculations. Removed from real life; unable to conduct themselves within their social environment or communicate with one another
Flying Island - these people are never down to earth. Manís desire to fly
Clothing satirizing impractical science. Their workmen would rather theorize than measure.
Laputians are not more comfortable from their science. They are cut off from life. Their preoccupation with heaven has made them neglect life on earth.
Laputa & Balnibarbi = England and Ireland
Gulliverís only friend on Laputa is a man who is actually interested in hearing of the affairs in Europe - Enlightened curiosity.
Lord Munodiís estate - Swift is praising traditional methods of architecture and farming. He is condemning the attitude of new for the sake of new.
Academy of Projectors - ridiculing impractical science. Human problems need all the wisdom of the past plus the knowledge of the present - not just the intellect.
Strud\ldbruggs - The folly of desiring something that is contrary to nature, the foolishness of clinging to life. Swift is criticizing one of the human vanities, the wish to escape death. The fear of death is to blind oneself to human limitations - human pride.