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Swift prose style

Swift’s writings never limited to the cheap purpose of gaining popularity. In fact, a theological and intellectual current always flows through his pages. His purpose was not to get imaginative insight only. He always tried to be practical. Swift’s prose style is often considered as near perfect. Most of the critics accept his style as the highest achievement of English prose. He writes in a clear, precise and exact style which is absolutely free of any kind of empty talk.

Aitkin rightly says;

“Swift’s style is very near perfection, clear, pointed, precise.”

The thorough analysis of his prose style would show a kind of ease with which he is able to communicate his ideas in an unambiguous manner. He had gifted ability to create the mood—humorous or grave, gay or cynical, playful or tender—- in fact, whichever he wanted to give to his readers. He finds no difficulty at all in finding the exact words to express what he wanted to express. His words are like the words of a great orator or an advocate who tries to convince us with his impressive thoughts. The most impressive thing about his prose style is that he is a conscious artist and knows exactly what he wants to do. Hence, the reader is not only interested in his writings but also is convinced by the clarity of his vision. He is master in masking the under playing satire with humour also.

As regard “Gulliver’s Travels”, Swift’s style is both sentimental and logical. It shows intensity of expressions and rapidness of mind. It is full of images and clarity of diction. Swift has artistically used the technique of contrast in the “Gulliver’s Travels”.

In first voyage, it is the smallness while in the voyage to Brobdingnage everything is depicted in a high scale. However, behind this veil of huge structures the man is still small always considering on utilitarian basis. In the voyage to Laputa, the contrast is not in the physical form but a selfish sincerity to one’s profession is shown. Here men are too busy that even they have no time to give attention to rational as well as emotional aspects of man. However, through all these contrasts it is hinted that despite of physical differences the psychology of man is one and the same.

However, it does not mean that Swift neglects the aesthetic beauty of his prose style in “Gulliver’s Travels”. We do find allusions and solid metaphors when they are needed. In fact, Swift’s style was well in accordance with his thoughts. He never tried to use elaborated language or ambitious sentences or word to impress the readers with his vast learning. The hallmark of this book is that the facts keep coming before the eyes of the readers without too much verbal complexity.

To understand Swift’s intentions not much scholarly knowledge is required. His writing is free from any absurdities of style, diction and references to ancient Greek or Roman religious or another mythology.


In the end, it can be said that Swift deserve praise for easy and safe communication. Hischief quality is that he instructs but never persuades. His works shows the highest power of geniusas applied to the literary creations. Even the severest of the critics have not denied the originalityof his work. Perhaps we cannot find better words than that of Henry Craik to describe his style:

“His works occupy a place altogether unique in our own or any other literature”.