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Brob-08

The Brobdingnagian queen in the 1996 made-for-TV mini-series.

The Brobdingnagians are a morally righteous race, detesting the war, greed, and corruption for which author Jonathan Swift saw the British Monarchy of the time to stand. Physically enormous with a description of 60 feet tall, their moral stature is also huge. Brobdingnag, as a society, is a practical and moral utopia, and among the Brobdingnagians, there is all the peace, goodwill and calm virtue of a true fantasy world. Their laws encourage charity and grace, though underneath it all they are just a people who labor under every disadvantage know to all "men." In the novel, they are described as being ugly when magnified through Gulliver's point of view, but they are characteristically beautiful in their thoughts and actions. They are the epitome of the "beauty is only skin deep" and "don't judge a book by it's cover" clichés.

Next to the moral high-ground of Brobdingnag and when compared to the Brobdingnagians, Gulliver's average ways expose many of his faults. Gulliver is revealed to be a very proud man and one who accepts the madness and malice of European politics, parties, and society as natural. What's more, he even lies to conceal what is despicable about them. The Brobdingnagian king, however, is not fooled by Gulliver. The English, he says, are "odious vermin." In his blind loyalty to England, we see Gulliver show that he is, in fact, full of pride - defending the madness and malice of British politics and society as not only acceptable, but the natural and normal standard. In this, we see Gulliver flounder as he now plays the hypocrite; he lies to the Brobdingnagian king in order to conceal what is deplorable about his native England. Gulliver's moral standards as an Englishman cannot match those of the Brobdingnagians. Swift further demonstrates this concept when he shows Gulliver identifying the British with the Lilliputians, thus making Gulliver (being British himself) look rather foolish as he indirectly associates himself with his former captors. It reinforces the folly and self-deception that Gulliver practices as he, at the same time, attempts to identify himself with these moral giants. It is clear to the outside observer that Gulliver's pride is at the root of his trouble, and Swift dramatizes this when Gulliver cannot bear to look at his reflection in the mirror.

Even still, the Brobdingnagians are not perfect, by any means, and they display their own flaws. In contrast to Gulliver, who considered the Lilliputians to be miniatures of men like himself, the Brobdingnagians are incapable of regarding Gulliver as a miniature Brobdingnagian. The King himself, who is sincerely fond of Gulliver, views him as nothing more than a toy - an entertaining, if sly little fellow - and one who should not be trusted. The maids of honor in the Brobdingnagian royal court also treat Gulliver as a mere plaything. To them, he is a curiosity, not a true man, so they disrobe in front of him without the slightest thought of modesty, and they delight themselves in viewing his naked body. Nevertheless, this "abusive" behavior toward Gulliver - in denying his humanity and his manhood — is applied not out of malice, but purely for amusement. Although they are certainly not perfect, the Brobdingnagians are consistently moral. Only children and the mentally abnormal show evil intent.

All-in-all, Swift's depiction praises the Brobdingnagians, but not in such a way as to leave the reader thinking that they are perfect model for humans. They are superhuman in physical stature, and in general more morally righteous than we are, but the story does not put their virtues out of reach as impossible for us to attain. It simply points out that because it takes such a level of enlightenment to reach the stature of a moral giant, few humans achieve it.

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