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In what ways do fictional representations of British travellers abroad serve to challenge fixed notions of British national identity - Essay Example

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The concept of a voyage of self-discovery such as that found in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Daniel Defoe’s Robison Crusoe, is a commonly used theme throughout many forms of literature. In these types of stories, the main character frequently begins the story…
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In what ways do fictional representations of British travellers abroad serve to challenge fixed notions of British national identity
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Download file to see previous pages As such, they are intended to bring about a specific change or reform in addition to relating an enjoyable tale. A brief understanding of the journeys of Gulliver and Crusoe respectively illustrates the changes these characters undergo throughout the course of their stories, exposing the intended satire intertwined within the work and illuminating some of our fixed notions regarding British national identity.
In each story, the travels undertaken by the main character have a great deal to do with the type of growth they experience. Gulliver, for example, makes four separate voyages, each time meeting a different kind of people. His first encounter is with the Lilliputians who, although they are very tiny compared to himself, nevertheless impress him with their technological achievements. Despite this, he soon realizes that outward appearances are not necessarily reflected on the inside as the Lilliputians squabble over such small matters as which side of an egg should be cracked or how high a heel should be worn. His second voyage takes him to the land of the Brobdingnag, who are giants compared to Gulliver. They treat him as a beast or, at best, a unique pet and, despite their size, Gulliver learns that bigger doesn’t always mean better, smarter or wiser when he gains the opportunities to see them at court and realizes not even the king has an understanding of politics. His third voyage takes him to Laputa. On this trip, he learns that highly educated doesn’t necessarily equate with sensible, historical figures were not always heroic and age does not always bring wisdom. Finally, on his fourth voyage, Gulliver loses the last of his innocent assumptions when he finds that men are the most base creatures of the land of the Houyhnhnms.
Robinson Crusoe also goes through a series of events in which he is forced to learn more about himself and illuminates the British identity. The book begins with a quick summary ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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