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Sheard 1Andrew SheardENG 105-05Dr. Jordan8 December 2016Jonathan Swift’s Political Satire of the Domineering English MonarchyIn his well-known workGulliver’s Travels,Jonathan Swift satirizes human institutionsand their failures. England’s monarchical government represented one such fallible system whichSwift took pleasure in debasing. Ireland was most dominated by England’s monarchy and Swiftdevoted much of his time writing to defend the Irish people. Swift’s criticisms of England’sinefficient and oppressive monarchical government are echoed by the American FoundingFathers’ criticism of the England’s mistreatment of its colonies in America.Swift was born in Ireland in 1667 and spent some of his later years traveling betweenIreland and England. Being denied a government position in England, he went to Ireland and wasordained in the Anglican church. While editing for a newspaper that favored the queen, helobbied the queen for his appointment “as dean of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, the most importantchurch in England,” but “the queen refused, and he became dean of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, themost important church in Ireland” (Kearney xi). Following the death of the queen, his politicalconnections and aspirations dissolved (Kearney xi). He took up writing again and publishedGulliver’s Travelsin 1726.Jonathan Swift repeatedly alluded to impractical and tyrannical government practices inGulliver’s Travels.In Part 1: A Voyage to Lilliput, Swift drew underlying parallels between theLilliputian government and England’s monarchy as Gulliver discusses the Lilliputians’impractical and comical way they govern. Government officials were selected through a process
Sheard 2of Rope-Dancing which required prospective bureaucrats to demonstrate their skills in tightropewalking. Gulliver related that these individuals had been training since their childhood for theopportunity to perform before the king (Swift 38). Gulliver also made the point that not all theseperformers were from royal families or had an excellent education.Through this, Swift likenedthese men to English officials, most of whom he believed possessed no true knowledge,statesmanship, or the right to an office by noble birth. Interestingly, the Lilliputians equated theirabilities to dance and jump on a tightrope with their capacities to govern effectively. Swiftviewed forthcoming English bureaucrats as only “rope-dancers” seeking the attention ofimportant officials or the king by performing useless acts to demonstrate their “talents.” Gullivermentioned that the current governors had to consistently demonstrate their abilities in theiroffices by rope-dancing at more dangerous heights than the prospective administrators. Gulliverfurther related that at the more treacherous heights, a broken limb or a death was common (Swift39). Swift alluded to the fact that the higher the position in England’s government, the greater the