Gulliver's Travels By Jonathan Swift Summary and Analysis Part I: Chapter 7

Summary

Gulliver learns that Flimnap, Skyresh Bolgolam, and others have approved articles of treason against him. His crimes include putting out the fire in the palace, refusing to devastate Blefuscu, speaking to the peace embassy from Blefuscu, and preparing to take advantage of the Emperor's permission to visit Blefuscu. The Emperor accepts the charges, but he refuses to kill Gulliver. Instead, he "mercifully" decides to blind Gulliver and save money on his upkeep by starving him slowly. On learning this, Gulliver escapes to Blefuscu.

Analysis

The Emperor's council that presses the charges against Gulliver stands for the commission of inquiry that preferred charges against the Tories. As a result of these charges, Harley and Bolingbroke were threatened with trials for treason. The first article, making water in the palace, may have reference to rumors that the Tories were sympathetic to Roman Catholicism. It may also apply to the charge that Harley and Bolingbroke treasonably and secretly revealed the instructions of the English negotiators to the French negotiators. The second charge correlates with overt attacks on the Tories for their refusal to continue the war and for their tries at negotiating a reasonable peace. The third charge stands for the accusation that Harley and Bolingbroke carried on secret correspondence with French negotiators. The fourth charge reflects the accusation that Harley and Bolingbroke intended to flee to France if their treason were discovered.

Swift uses this chapter to show that English politicians were bloody-minded and treacherous. In detail, he records the bloody and cruel methods that the Lilliputians plan to use to kill Gulliver; then he comments ironically on the mercy, decency, generosity, and justice of kings. The Lilliputian emperor, out of mercy, plans to blind and starve Gulliver. This plan seems a direct reference to George's treatment of some captured Jacobites. He executed them — after parliament had called him most merciful and lenient.

Glossary

the meanness of my condition my lowness in social status and rank; here, meaning that Gulliver was of humble origins and not of the nobility.

in a close chair in an enclosed, one-person chair with glass windows, carried on poles by two men; a sedan chair.

standing my trial facing my accusers.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

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




Quiz