Essay on the Continual Downfall of Man, in Relation to Gullivers Travels

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Often in literature, mankind is looked down upon. Be it for his nature, his behavior, or an individual’s personality, man is typically the antagonist. Not surprisingly, La Rochefoucauld, Thurber, and Swift are amongst the many who employ this method to prove a point; society should be bettered. Instead of prescribing ways of fixing the problems they continuously write about, these authors prefer to lament from afar, through their works of literature, or in La Rochefoucauld’s case, maxims. Each writer shows distinct faults of mankind: arrogance, insensitivity, and hypocrisy. Arrogance has always been one of the more pronounced sins of mankind. La Rochefoucauld’s seventh maxim is directed at man’s conceit. “Man often believes he leads, when indeed he is being led; and while his mind directs him toward one goal, his heart drags him unconsciously toward another.” La Rochefoucauld demonstrates that man usually believes he is in control when there are several other factors leading him, therefore proving that man is arrogant because he wishes to believe in his own superiority to such a great extent that he ignores the reality of the situation. Thurber continues to exhibit the arrogance of man in “The Man and the Dinosaur”. Thurber writes, “’Greetings, stupid,’ said Man, ‘Behold in me the artfully articulated architect of the future, the chosen species, the certain survivor the indestructible one, the monarch of all you survey, and of all that everyone else surveys, for that matter.’” Thurber shows man as a pompous idiot, so arrogant that he is compelled to monologue about his own greatness to a dinosaur, nonetheless. Swift goes on to show arrogance in his own text, Gulliver’s Travels. When the scientists were trying to determine if a person would commit regicide, they would, “take a strict view of their excrements, and from the coulour, the odour, the taste, the

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