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

Gulliver's Travels

by Jonathan Swift

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What are three examples of satire from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels?

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Lilliput and Blefuscu are satirical depictions of England and France. Like England and France, these two countries are at one another's throats politically and culturally. Their big dispute is between whether a boiled egg should be eaten from the big end up or the little end up-- a jab at the conflict between Protestantism and Catholicism.

While scholars disagree as to what exactly we are to make of the Houyhnhnms, a common idea is that they might be satirizing English colonialism, the way other cultures are viewed as inherently lesser than the so-called civilized British Empire. The Houyhnhnms treat humans like chattel.

Laputa is a land of scholars who make no practical use of their knowledge. Swift was probably lampooning some elements of the Enlightenment, such as the mind being totally separated from matter. That the city floats in the air is symbolic of how they have no connection to the real world. They are too abstract. The Royal Academy is likely the model for the air-headed Laputian scholars.

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Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels is a satirical look at England in the Enlightenment period. It is filled with humorous jabs at English politics, manners, business, and science. Here are three famous satirical aspects of the Lilliputian society:

Rope Dancers: Applicants for court positions danced on a suspended rope for the Emperor. Although this dance did nothing to prove a person's ability to perform a court function, the winners were given the jobs.

Silken Threads: Social status was determined in part by how well an act of dexterity was performed. Participants jumped over or maneuvered under a stick held out by the Emperor. Depending on how well the Emperor judged them to have performed the feat they were given silken threads of a certain color to wear around their waists.

High-heelers vs. Low-heelers: The main political division in Lilliput was signified by the size of the heels on a person's shoes. Low-heelers were the dominant political group and high-heelers were shunned. One character had one high-heel and one low-heel.


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