Compare and Contrast the Lilliputians and the Emperor with the King of Brobdingnag

“A dark picture of political institutions and manners” has been presented in Gulliver’s Travels by the supreme satirist of English literature, Jonathan Swift. He had practical experience in politics and politicians. This experience had shown him the hidden springs of power and the part played by corruption and intrigue. Gulliver’s Travels throws the light of superior and destructive irony upon the smallness of means, the verity of motives, the illusion of the catchwords through which kings retained thrones. These elements of the contemporary politics and politicians have been reflected in the characters and philosophies of the Lilliputians emperor and the king of Brobdingnag.

The difference between the emperor of Lilliput and the King of Brobdingnag is mainly due to their formation and conditions of living, to find out the similarities and differences between, these two rules, we must take into account the very strange situations of their countries and lives. The people of Lilliput are just six inches in height and the emperor of Lilliput is taller than a normal Lilliputian by the breadth of Gulliver’s nail. Therefore, his size and strength must have influence over his mental formation while the king of Brobdingnag is the ruler of the people who are sixty feet in height. Gulliver, who was called a ‘man mountain’ in Lilliput, becomes a dwarf. The king of big giants like the Brobdingnagians must have opinions compatible with his size and strength. The smaller the man is the meaner his mind is, on the other hand, the greater the man is, the broader his mind is.

The emperor of Lilliput and the King of Brobdingnag are not comparable in height and size and so they are not and cannot be similar in their mental attitudes. The emperor of Lilliput and the king of Brobdingnag are both inquisitive of Gulliver but the nature of inquisitiveness is quite different. Gulliver was arrested when he reached the land of Lilliput but by dint of his intelligence, he becomes a favorite with the emperor. The emperor of Lilliput believes himself to be the delight and terror of the universe but the whole thing appears to be absurd to Gulliver. Through contests, he selects the high officials of the court. These contests serve also as diversions for the emperor and for the countries. Rope-dancing is one of the items of contests. Candidates require being skillful in this art. Another contest requires candidates to creep under a stick held by the Emperor in his hands. The candidates, who can show greater agility, are rewarded with one of the three silken threads of blue, red and green colors.

The Emperor wants to rule over the universe. So, he wants to bring Blefuscu under his sovereignty. He is already at war with Blefuscu and with the help of Gulliver he has already crippled their naval power yet he is not satisfied and wants Gulliver to destroy his entire ships. But Gulliver refuses to do so, he becomes displeased with him. He even plans to punish him. The Emperor wants to destroy the Big-Endian living in Blefuscu and compel them to break the smaller end of their eggs. Thus, the Emperor reveals his imperialistic attitude. Swift here ridicules the ‘immeasurable ambition of the Princes.’ He satirizes the Machiavellian policy of routing gut the enemy of the then King.

The king of Brobdingnag is a completely different man. Being amazed at the diminutive creature that Gulliver was, the king sends for three great scholars of his country to examine the body of Gulliver and explain how Gulliver came to have such a small body. The king takes pleasure in conversing with Gulliver. He inquires into the nature of their political institutions. He wants to know about their manners, religion, laws, government, and learning of Europe. But the king makes adverse comments on them after having a clear understanding and an exact judgment. The king regards Europe as if it were an ant-hill. He exclaims with a surprise ‘how contemptible a thing was human grandeur which could be mimicked by such diminutive insects.’ The kingdom of Brobdingnag has the distinguishing excellence in the maintenance of law and order. Lilliput does not have the calmness and commonsense of Brobdingnag. It is fraught with war and raises a war over a trifling issue like the breaking of an egg. The smaller men like the Lilliputians have all the negative qualities- avarice, hypocrisy, perfidy, cruelty, rage, madness, hatred, envy, lust, malice and ambition. The Emperor of Lilliput does not try to cure his subjects of all these evil qualities. So, his country is a heap of conspiracies, rebellions, murders, massacres, and banishments. The king is struck with horror at the destructive power of the gunpowder and considers that Gulliver’s native men must be very mean and low kind of creature to entertain such inhuman ideas. On the other hand, the Emperor wants to use Gulliver to destroy his enemy.

Swift makes use of these two rulers to express his hatred against the vices of the politics and politicians. The king of Brobdingnag is his mouthpiece to voice his condemnation of the objectionable practices prevailing in England. The Emperor represents the king of England under whom all kinds of malpractices in society and politics were allowed to continue. The king upholds benevolent rule for humanity while the emperor symbolizes anti-human imperialistic and aggressive political power.


Founder & CEO, Hamandista Academy  

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