Gulliver's Travels By Jonathan Swift Summary and Analysis Part I: Chapter 5

Summary

Gulliver saves Lilliput from a Blefuscudian invasion by dragging the Blefuscudian ships to Lilliput. In gratitude, the Lilliputian emperor rewards Gulliver with the title Nardac. Gulliver is pleased with his new title, but he is not the Emperor's dupe. He rejects a plan to destroy Blefuscu completely and argues for a reasonable peace treaty. Gulliver's moderation in dealing with the Blefuscudians gives Flimnap and Skyresh Bolgolam a chance to slander him. The Emperor listens to the accusations and is cold to Gulliver when he grants him permission to visit Blefuscu in the future. Later, a fire in the palace breaks out, and Gulliver puts out the fire by urinating on it. There is a law against anyone passing water in the royal palace, however, and the Empress is so horrified by Gulliver's fire-fighting techniques that she never forgives Gulliver. The Emperor softens, though, and promises Gulliver a pardon for his crime.

Analysis

Here, Swift satirizes the War of the Spanish Succession: The Whigs had conducted a war against the Roman Catholic leaders of France and Spain. Although it had its religious over-tones, the war also involved trading rights with the colonies in America. The Tories, led by Harley and Bolingbroke, were willing to make a reasonable peace with France, and when they came to power, they immediately began to negotiate with the French. The result was the peace treaty signed at Utrecht in 1713. Their naval policy, they said, destroyed the Spanish fleet. The Whigs were unsatisfied. They maintained that it was Marlborough's infantry campaigns on the continent that had brought peace. Moreover, after the peace treaty was signed, the Whigs accused the Tories of treason because of a failure to get colonies and ports from France and Spain.

The fire-fighting episode may (or may not) refer to Swift's Tale of a Tub, which he wrote to defend the Church of England against its Puritan and Roman Catholic enemies. The book is satirical, often coarse, and Queen Anne was reportedly offended by Swift's coarseness. Because of this, she resisted his friends' suggestions that he be made a dean or bishop in England.

Glossary

encomiums formal expressions of high praise.

diuretic increasing the excretion of urine.

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Gulliver’s visit to Lilliput allows Swift to satirize what sort of rulers?




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