Compare and contrast the Lilliputian Emperor with Brobdingnagian King as rulers
Question: Compare and contrast the Lilliputian Emperor with Brobdingnagian King as rulers in Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”.
Ostensibly, “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) is a story of adventure but allegorically it is a harsh criticism as to political and social systems. To express his ideas, Swift uses the technique of comparison and contrast side by side irony, ambiguity, and symbolism. The tiny Lilliputian emperor is set in stark contrast to the king of Brobdingnag.
The narration of physical fitness about the emperor of Lilliput and king of Brobdingnag is symbolic and philosophic. The Lilliputians are six inches tall. On the other hand, Brobdingnagians are gigantic and nearly sixty feet long. As a third party, Gulliver is gigantic to the Lilliputians and diminutive to the Brobdingnagians. Here Swift symbolically and philosophically means to say that the powerful people of the world are not really powerful. It is just a kind of illusion as Gulliver is something and nothing.
The mentality of the Lilliputian emperor is as mean as his physical figure. But the loftiness of heart of the king of Brobdingnag is as high as his gigantic fitness. Thus, they are pole apart not only in terms of their physical stature but also in terms of their qualities that they possess.
Pride and cruelty vs benevolence and simplicity
The sharp contrast between the emperor of Lilliput and the king of Brobdingnag can be accounted for in respect to their vices and virtues. The emperor is a proud and cruel one. Gulliver has to tolerate unbearable suffering from the seashore of the Lilliput to the escaping from Blefuscu. The Lilliputians are very cynical and have no hospitability for the strangers. They are a very selfish nation and the emperor only knows how to manipulate someone in a time of crisis. Contrariwise, the king of Brobdingnag is very benevolent and simple from top to bottom. As he is well mannered, he evaluates people very positively.
The ruling system of the emperor and the king is out and out different from each other. The king of Brobdingnag with all positive qualities stands in stark contrast to the emperor of Lilliput. He rules his country through love. He is kind, benevolent, and gracious. He always seeks the well-being of his subjects. There is a trustworthy relationship between the ruler and the ruled in his kingdom. There is freedom of speech in his ruling system.
“And, as it was Tyranny in any Government to require the first,
so it was weakness not to enforce the second.”
Thus, the king of Brobdingnag is evidently a fair and merciful ruler. He is portrayed as a just, wise, and strong monarch. Elsewhere, the Lilliputian emperor has turned his land into a place of corruption, intrigues, vices, and wars.
The emperor of Lilliput possesses insatiable or dissatisfied lust for power. He wants to take control over the island of Lilliput by the process of imperialism. Whereas the giant king is a man of common sense, kindness, and consideration. He is more humane than the minuscule or tine emperor. He hates the imperialistic process that is expressed by him when Gulliver talks about the gunpowder that is used by his country to dominate the weaker nations.
“He was amazed how so impotent and groveling an insect
as I would entertain such inhuman ideas.”
Here Swift expresses the surprise of the king from the horrible description of Gulliver about the terrible weapons and its importance to manufacture in his country.
The only similarity between the emperor and the king is found in respect of national interest though their procedure is upsettingly vice-versa. The emperor has preserved his national interest by means of despotism, but the king is able to do so like the king of Utopia.
Therefore, it must be said that Jonathan Swift is impartial and formal in his criticism. He has attempted to scatter the message that good governance is the only way for establishing peace and development in this short but alluring world.