In his novel, Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift expertly satirizes conflicts of the western world by creating a war between the fictional, tiny nations of Lilliput and Blefuscu. Though the war is violent and deathly, the conflict arose from a ludicrous disagreement: the citizens of Lilliput believe an egg should be broken from the small end, while Blefuscudians believes it should be broken from the larger end.
This warfare is a pertinent satire because it pokes fun not only at the wars and conflicts of Swift’s day, but at the conflicts of our present day. Though wars might seem to be based on reasonable cause, Swift’s writing argues that they’re ultimately as useless and nonsensical as the egg debate. Today, nations seem to always fight for petty things like money or even the intangible- like power.
In the book, even the size of the people hints to the fact that tiny disputes can be blown way out of proportion. To Lemuel, their feud is insignificant and almost comical because of their miniscule size (at least until he gets wrapped up in it). Therefore, through this witty depiction of war, Swift implies that Western conflicts are petty, pointless, and unnecessary.
However, upon arrival of the floating island Laputa, Swift’s ideals seem to shift. Swift may not advocate war but he clearly sympathizes with people fighting for independence from colonization. In Laputa, the king has three ways of dealing with rebels. He either cuts off their resources, pelts them with great stones, or lets his island drop directly on top of them (which has never been done). Since dropping the island to the earth would devastate both peoples, perhaps Swift is suggesting that in an effort to suppress rebellion in their colonies, the oppressive nations will also destroy themselves.
In Swift’s day, this referenced the Irish rebellion in Dublin which was successful, as was the fictional Lindalino. They got what they wanted and declared that if given the chance, they would kill the Laputan king and completely rewrite the government. It seems like Swift agreed with these radical ideas. Swift was truly a genius for satirizing colonialists like this, especially England. Little did he know that America, Ireland, Canada, China, and many more would all gain their independence from British rule through war within the next two centuries.
Within my satirical editorial, I covered different aspects of foreign relations, but still discussed Swift’s two sides of war and referenced these newly-independent nations. I chose to write an editorial because I thought using each country as a character would best show the dysfunctional relationships between each, which is very straightforward and not as clever as Swift’s metaphors.
I slightly touched on America and China fighting over money, power, or innovation as “the bigger slice of cake”. Although they have not actually gone to war over this is real life, it’s only a matter of time before they fight about these seemingly trivial things. I also lightly tease about America’s shopping addiction, which I mean as her acquiring new lands through colonization. I refer to her colonies as her “adopted” kids and when she later talks about her new acquisitions, she can’t even remember their names. Of course no parent would really forget their children’s names, but that goes to show how little America cares about its colonies as long as she get to assert her power.
In walks Britain and his friends, which form the UK. Britain is a bully who likes to tell everyone what to do, which is true in the sense that the British empire has had power almost everywhere at some point in history. Specifically, I wrote about how southern Ireland gained its independence from England by “forming his own club” and how Hong Kong was liberated as China is referred to as Britain’s “ex-best-friend”.
The American Revolution is America breaking up with Britain “over text”, meaning the Declaration of Independence. I also stated that Britain “never really got over it”. What I mean is that the world was turned upside-down when America became independent, because it was the first nation to do so, just as Lindalino was in Laputa. By trying to suppress the American rebels, Britain actually damaged itself forever- just as Swift predicted. After seeing America’s success, all other nations knew that they could win their independence the same way. In the end it doesn’t matter how big your army or how violent your tactics, because, according to Jonathan Swift, the evil deed of colonization is always going to bite you in the butt.
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