Page 26. " our Enemies in the Island of Blefuscu "

Lilliput represents England and Blefuscu represents France.

England had recently been at war with France when Jonathan Swift wrote the novel, in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714).


Page 30. " Tramecksan and Slamecksan, from the high and low Heels on their Shoes "
High and Low Heels
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumHigh and Low Heels - Credit:

The Tramecksans, or High Heel Wearers, represented the English Tories. The Slamecksans, or Low Heel Wearers, were the Whigs.

High and Low are in reference to the fact that though both Tories and Whigs were Anglicans - members of the Church of England - the Tories tended to be High Church, or more nearly Catholic, and the Whigs tended to be Low Church, or more liberally Protestant.

Page 30. " our Philosophers are in much Doubt "

Thinking man
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThinking man - Credit: Satyakamk
The term "philosopher" in Swift's day was used to describe what we would now call a scientist. 

Page 31. " happened to cut one of his Fingers "

The prince who cut his finger is usually taken to represent Henry VIII, who "cut his finger" on Catholic doctrine when he sought a divorce from his queen. The pope's refusal to grant the divorce led Henry to found the Anglican Church.

The "injury" was still being disputed at the time Swift wrote Gulliver's Travels.

Page 33. " I then took my Tackling and fastning a Hook to the Hole at the Prow of each "
Gulliver in Triumph over the Blefuscu Navy
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumGulliver in Triumph over the Blefuscu Navy - Credit: Clipart ETC

Gulliver's victory was accomplished by a naval maneuver. This reflects the Tory attitude during the War of the Spanish Succession. The Tories favoured naval action as being less expensive and less dangerous than land action. It was the Tories' view (and Swift's) that this was the decisive blow that won the war and ensured British dominion over Europe and the world. 


Image courtesy ClipartETC

Page 38. " could not forbear vowing Revenge "

This fire-extinguishing incident symbolizes the Treaty of Utrecht, by which the Tories "put out the fire" of war. Gulliver fell into disfavor through his actions, just as the Tories did. In the Tory view, the secret treaty was necessary to avert total disaster. It did indeed stop the war but also brought shame, political destruction and charges of treason.


Page 42. " The Clothes and Food of the Children are plain and simple. "
Plato Bust
Public DomainPlato Bust
Drawing of Spartan Warrior
Public DomainDrawing of Spartan Warrior - Credit: SAWg3rd

Swift's utopian notions derive from Plato's Republic; much of the Republic is modeled on the Spartan ideal way of life, which was incredibly austere.



Page 45. " my secret Enemy "

Bishop Francis Atterbury
Public DomainBishop Francis Atterbury
Flimnap's accusations against Gulliver represent Whig accusations against Bishop Francis Atterbury (1662 - 1732), a close friend of Swift. Atterbury was a prominent Tory and High Churchman, a great orator who held considerable power under Queen Anne's rule and who openly favored the succession of her half-brother James III rather than George of Hanover.

As soon as George I came to power, Atterbury fell from favor. In 1723, he was arrested for complicity in a Jacobite plot to replace George I with the Pretender James. He was convicted and forced into exile.

Page 49. " make you tear your own Flesh, and die in utmost Torture "

This is the manner in which the mythical Greek hero Hercules met his death. A shirt soaked in the poisoned blood of the centaur Nessus was sent to him. It stuck to him, the poison entered his blood, and he tore off his own flesh in his efforts to remove the shirt, dying in agony.