What is Jonathan Swift satirizing in Gulliver’s Travels?

Jonathan Swift wrote Gulliver’s Travels in the voice and tone of many travelogue accounts from the time period, parodying this easily recognizable format to mock aspects of wider society, and English society in particular. Its mock serious tone makes use of irony and hyperbole to create a biting form of satire. The egg cracking controversy between the Lilliputians and the Blefuscudians, for instance, satirizes any arbitrary conflict between nations rooted in inconsequential traditions. The Tramecksans and the Slamecksans, in a further example, offer stand-ins for the Tories and the Whigs.

What was the original purpose of Gulliver’s voyage?

Gulliver originally trained to be a surgeon’s apprentice and then studied physics at Leyden, but traveling and exploration was his ultimate goal. He took on a three-year stint as a surgeon on the ship the Swallow, before settling in London to get married and work as a doctor. After his business failed, he took to the sea and embarked on a six-year voyage. Towards the end of his travels, he took a job aboard the Antelope—meant to be his final trip before returning home—which led him to Lilliput following the fateful storm and shipwreck.

How does Gulliver come to arrive at Lilliput?

While aboard the Antelope, Gulliver and the rest of the crew encounter a tumultuous storm in the East Indies. Most of the crew perishes but Gulliver and a few of the other sailors make it to a lifeboat, until it capsizes and he is separated from his crew. From there, Gulliver swims to the shore of the nearby island of Lilliput.

How do the Lilliputians manage to capture Gulliver?

When Gulliver swims to the island, he passes out from fatigue. Upon waking, however, he finds that the Lilliputians—despite being merely six inches tall—have tied thread around him, pinning him to the ground. When he attempts to escape, the Lilliputians shoot arrows at him, and Gulliver decides it’s probably safest to stay still. They bring him a cart, place him on it, and bring him into their central city.

What caused the war between Lilliput and Blefuscu?

Furthering the ongoing satirical elements that focus on culture clashes, the people of Lilliput and Blefuscu have for many years been in conflict regarding the proper way to crack eggs. The current emperor’s grandfather had ordered the Lilliputians to break their eggs on the small end, rather than the traditional approach of the large end, because he had cut his finger breaking an egg on the large end. Protests broke out from this charge, fueled by the monarchs of Blefuscu. As the conflict escalated, the people of Blefuscu ultimately accused the Lilliputians of disobeying their sacred religious doctrine, the Brundrecral. The Lilliputians argued that the doctrine reads, “That all true believers shall break their eggs at the convenient end,” which could be interpreted as the small end.