I need help naming an exact political or social issue dealt with in Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift.

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift addresses specific social and political issues concerning England and the relationship between England and Ireland in his period. Secretary to William Temple, an important politician, and then part of the hierarchy of the Church of England in his native Ireland, Swift was actively and passionately involved in the political debates of his period, and much of his writing is strongly topical. 

The section concerning Laputa, for example, reflects back on Swift's "A Tale of a Tub," a poem in which Swift, inter alia, defends Temple's position in the "Battle of the Books." This "Battle," an episode in a more general Quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns, involved two related issues, a narrow one of the question of the authenticity of the Epistles of Phalaris, a set of letters attributed to an archaic Greek tyrant (but actually composed during the Second Sophistic), and a more general question of the value of ancient learning and whether it should be studied philologically or as a set of practical lessons. Swift and his patron Temple were arrayed on the side of the authenticity of the letters and the value of studying classics for how they could be applied to modern life (the letters of Phalaris acted as insights into the psychology of tyrants), and were lined up against Wotton and Bentley, who found classical learning of more limited applicability, and advocated putting the study of antiquity on a more scientific basis, concerned with historical accuracy rather than finding practical lessons. 

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