by Jonathan Swift
Analysis: Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Sometimes, there’s more to Lit than meets the eye.
A symbol is something that stands for something else. The thing about Gulliver's Travels is everything stands for something else – there's practically nothing in the whole book that isn't a symbol – because it is written for the purpose of critiquing contemporary philosophies and customs. Nearly every person in this book stands either for a historical figure or for an idea. Even in dialogue, men like the Brobdingnagian King sound less like individuals and more like mouthpieces for different perspectives on morality and governance. So head over to "Characters," where we discuss the characteristics and symbolic value of each group of people – the Lilliputians, the Brobdingnagians, etc.