Historical Context in Gulliver's Travels
Travel Journal: As a subset of travel literature, the travel journal focuses on the author’s personal experiences and changes as a consequence of travel. First arising in Greece and medieval China, one of the most famous collections of travel diaries was written by Marco Polo as he explored Asia. Swift takes advantage of the form—which provides the opportunity to critique a number of alien cultures—to satirize British and European society, looking at aspects of its culture through the lens of an outside observer.
The British Whigs and Tories: In modern terms, 18th-century Whigs leaned liberal while Tories tended to be conservative. In Swift’s time, Tories supported the national Anglican church and the divine right of kings to rule—which also opposed increased power for British parliament. Whigs, on the other hand, sought greater parliamentary power. George I, king when Swift was writing Gulliver’s Travels, was a Whig supporter who filled Parliament with his chosen political party. As a Tory supporter, Swift took inspiration from the Tory-Whig conflict for the high- vs. low-heeled shoe conflict of the Lilliputians.
Historical Context Examples in Gulliver's Travels:
Part I - Chapter I🔒
Part I - Chapter II🔒
"and I spoke to them in as many languages as I had..." See in text (Part I - Chapter II)
"and I returned answers, but neither of us could understand a syllable..." See in text (Part I - Chapter II)
Part I - Chapter III🔒
"Whoever performs his part with most agility and holds out the longest in leaping and creeping is rewarded with the blue-colored silk, the red is given to the next, and the green to the third, which they all wear girt twice round about the middle, ..." See in text (Part I - Chapter III)