How can Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift be related to George I?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Emperor of Lilliput is a satirical version of King George I. The Lilliputian emperor's preference for people who wear low heels symbolizes his favoring of the Whig party, which preferred what was referred to as the "low church" (the church stripped of Catholic elements). The high heels that the king does not favor are representative of the opposition party in England at the time, the Tories, who favored the "high church," the Church of England. Candidates for public office in Lilliput must literally carry out an elaborate rope dance, which they are trained for since birth. The rope dance symbolizes the way in which people in the royal court in England had to curry favor with the king to gain favor or office. 

The Emperor of Lilliput is also convinced of his own grandness. He is described as a sovereign "whose dominions extend five thousand blustrugs (about twelve miles in circumference) to the extremities of the globe." In this sense, the emperor is similar to the king of England, whose powerful navy extended his country's reach to different parts of the globe.

rareynolds eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Swift's Lilliput is a satirization of England at the time of his writing (1725-6). Therefore, it follows that the Lilliputian emperor is a satirical representation of the King of England at that time, George I, and that the two political factions in Lilliput, the Tramecksans and the Slamecksans, represent the two main political parties in England, the Tories and the Whigs, respectively. The Tramecksans wear only high heels on their shoes—a reference to the Tories, the conservative party in England that favored the Catholic influence in the Church of England (the “high church”). On the other hand, the low-heel Slamecksans are a reference to the the low-church (pro-Protestant) supporting Whigs. Like George I, who was strongly pro-Whig, the Lilliputian emperor only appoints Slamecksans to important government posts; also like George I, the emperor is obsessed with destroying neighboring Blefuscu, a reference to England’s war with France over Spanish territories in the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714).

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The emperor of Lilliput is representative of George I, the king on the throne when Gulliver's Travels was published.  The pro-Whig George I persecuted the High Church Tories.  When Gulliver details the conflict between the two warring parties in Lilliput, the Tramecksans and Slamecksans, those who wear high heels and low heels on their shoes, respectively, Swift is satirizing the conflict between the Tories and Whigs, respectively.  He says that the emperor has determined to "make use of only low Heels" in his administration, and this parallels King George's favor of the Low Church Whig party.  The Whigs were the more liberal party; the Tories more conservative. 

Further, the Lilliputian emperor is highly susceptible to influence and manipulations by his administration's ministers, and this parallels the belief that George I was too easily influenced by those people that he trusted (and, perhaps, that those people were not altogether reliable). 

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Gulliver's Travels

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