Gulliver's giant feet walking in the diminuative forest of the lilliputians

Gulliver's Travels

by Jonathan Swift

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In Gulliver's Travels, what are the reasons behind the dispute between the Lilliputians and Blefuscudians?

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The two great empires of Lilliput and Blefuscu are historical rivals that disagree about what is considered to be the proper end of an egg to break. The current Lilliputian emperor's grandfather had cut his hand breaking an egg on its larger end. The emperor then issued an edict demanding that citizens of Lilliput must break their eggs at the smaller end. The citizens initially resented the law, and as many as six rebellions have ensued because of the edict, which were instigated by the monarchs of Blefuscu. The majority of the population of Blefuscu refer to themselves as Big-endians and are accused of making the schism in the religion by incorrectly interpreting the words of a revered text regarding the appropriate way to break an egg. The venerated text reads, "that all true believers break their eggs at the convenient end" (Swift, 53). The Big-endians exiles reside in Blefuscu, and there has been an ongoing war between the two nations for thirty-six years (six-and-thirty moons). Swift is satirizing the long-standing conflict between Protestant England and Catholic France, which are metaphorically represented by the nations of Lilliput and Blefuscu.

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The reason for the dispute between the Lilliputians and the Blefuscudians begins with the great debate over which side of the egg is the proper one to break.  When the grandfather of the current emperor of Lilliput was a boy, he broke his egg at the larger end, and he cut his finger.  Since then, everyone is supposed to break their eggs at the smaller end, but there have been a great number of rebellions as a result of the new law, and the rulers of Blefuscu have encouraged and fueled these civil skirmishes in Lilliput.  Further, the Blefuscudian emperors have often "accused [the Lilliputians] of making a Schism in Religion [...]."  Many Big Endians have gone into exile rather than begin to change their habit of egg breaking, and they've found refuge in Blefuscu, and the court of that country has given them assistance and encouragement to continue to foment rebellion and discord in Lilliput.  As a result of this conflict, Lilliput has lost dozens of ships and thousands of seamen.

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