The word ‘misanthrope’ means hater of mankind or the one who has a distrust for human character in general. To some extent Gulliver directs his satires towards the meanness of human being.
The allegation of 'misanthropy' has been levelled against Swift in context of his book 'Gulliver's Travels'. In Book I, Gulliver is a ship’s surgeon who sails from Bristol. After a shipwreck he sails to an island, Lilliput. Gulliver has talked of the selfishness of man everywhere(he reduces the people to the height of six inches). In Book II, Gulliver is in Brobdingnag, where in front of the tall people he seems to be a Lilliputian. The book is replete with instances showing human vanities. Gulliver has used the words: “the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.” In Book III, Gulliver laughs at the futile efforts of scientists and philosophers. In the flying island named Lagodo, he watches scientists engaged in foolish pursuits. The charge of misanthropy is proven more in case of Book IV. In Book IV, Swift has described the country of Houyhnhnms, who are horses blessed with reason. The author here contrasts their rational society with the beastiality of Yahoos, who are beasts in shape of human beings.
In his essay 'A Modest Proposal' Swift writes that the Irish should reduce their burden by selling their surplus children to the rich. His book 'A Tale of Tub' is also considered a proof towards Swift's misanthropy.
So what do you think: Is Swift really a misanthrope? Share your views.