A wise man once said, "That which does not kill us only makes us stronger." Jonathan Swift obviously made good use of the moral of this quote when writing his book, Gulliver's Travels. In this book, Swift tells of Lemuel Gulliver's travels to fantastic nations that exist only in Swift's own imagination. However, as Gulliver journeys to these new places, his attitudes about the state of man and his morals gradually change. In every stage of his travels, Gulliver sees a new side of mankind that makes him pity the state of his kind, while allowing him to see the light and become a better individual himself. So as Gulliver progresses from Lilliput, to Brobdingnag, to Laputa, and finally to the Land of the Houyhnhnms, he learns different facets of the human character that depress him somewhat but cause him to emerge as a stronger person. On his first voyage, Gulliver learns the corruption and pettiness of humans and how these emotions can lead to distress.
When he first lands on the island, he seen as a threat to the security of the people residing there and thus is treated accordingly as a prisoner. However, as the people of Lilliput become accustomed to the "man-mountain", he becomes somewhat accepted into their society and thus he sees all the disadvantages of their moral character. The people of Lilliput are corrupt and very materialistic. People earn places in the government by performing tricks on a rope not by using their merits and qualification for the job.
Gulliver sees the petty differences between the Lilliputians emerge into full-scale wars that result in many deaths. However, Gulliver sees something else that causes the main sorrow in his heart. He sees the similarities between these characteristics of the Lilliputians and the people of his beloved England. Though he doesn't come out and say it he knows that the argument between the Big-Endians, and the Little-Endians is no different than the differences between Whigs and Tories, and Catholics and Protestants. Though seeing his culture's petty differences illustrated in front of him made Gulliver see the error of his ways and this realization allowed him to be ready to benefit from the Utopia he would visit next. In Brobdingnag, Gulliver is in sorrow because he sees what people can become if only they try.
Brobdingnag represents a Utopia, the ideal government, the ideal people, and the ideal society. This is not to say all the people are perfectly pure and noble, they exists cruelty and jealousy among them, but this is made up for by the fact that all the highest administrators are noble and have no serious detrimental faults. One may ask why being is such a wonderful place can cause a person to feel sorrow. Gulliver is enjoying his stay in this land of giants, until the king begins to criticize Europe and England as places of corruption when compared to his own perfect kingdom.
Gulliver is angered by this since he knows that what the king is saying is true. He suffers a moral shrinking and becomes resentful of all he sees around him. However, when Gulliver makes his departure, he sees the error of his people's ways and realizes that the Brobdingnag would be positive examples for the people of England to follow. In Gulliver's third journey, his experiences in Laputa and the nations around it cause him to turn on the actions of human beings. In Laputa he sees people in a society where they continue to research and make discoveries that seem to lead from nothing to nowhere. They study the stars and mathematics and invent things that seem to serve no purpose.
Gulliver also sees the corruption in the government in Laputa. He exposes the king as tyrant and shows that he tries to crush all of his opposition with his harsh acts. This makes Gulliver feel sorry because he sees that human talent is being wasted with useless inventions and in the service of ungrateful and undeserving rulers. This realization however, makes Gulliver more able to deal with life in England since he will no longer be worried about making and impression on a ruler not deserving of his loyalty. Gulliver's final voyage causes him more turbulence than any of his other journeys.
In the Land of the Houyhnhnms Gulliver sees things that cause him pleasure and things that distress him. He appreciates the wisdom and the reason that is shown by the Houyhnhnms and wishes that people could be more like them. He tries his best to emulate their lifestyle and in fact incorporates himself into their society rather nicely. However, Gulliver also sees human beings in their worst form. The Yahoos are savages whose emotions of lust and greed cause them to be unteachable creatures. Gulliver looks at these creatures and sees the human race in its worst case.
Gulliver is afraid that someday people in England will become like these Yahoos and this fear makes him go mad. However, Gulliver does benefit from this journey because he realizes the value of reason and the importance of keeping your head on straight. All of Lemuel Gulliver's journeys made a better man out of him, despite causing him sorrow. In Lilliput, he sees the faults in human character and the corruption that has eaten its way into people's institutions.
While in Brobdingnag, he sees a Utopia of human society that causes him to wish that his people would follow their example. On the journey to Laputa, Gulliver begins to resent the corruption in human government and hate the fact that human talents are being wasted. Finally when he visits the Houyhnhnms he is amazed with their reason and distressed due to the Yahoo viciousness. In all these journeys Gulliver has used what he has seen to better his own position and make himself a wiser man.