Compare and contrast between the two kings in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels

Jonathan Swift was arguably the greatest intellectual figure of the first half of the eighteenth century, who was a subtle observer of the follies and foibles of human society. In his master Gulliver’s Travels, he has highlighted both absurdities and good qualities of kings and queens. In the first couple of parts of Gulliver’s Travels, two kings, the Lilliputian king, and the Brobdingnagian king are introduces. Swift quite impressively encapsulated the traits of the leaders of the countries of the world in both kings of the first couple of parts. Even the elements of contemporary politics and politicians have been reflected in both the characters and philosophies of the Lilliputian king and the Brobdingnagian king. This essay aims at refuting both the kings’ traits by juxtaposing them.

Both Kings’ personalities

The Lilliputian king and the Brobdingnagian king represent two different policies of the rulers. The height of the Lilliputian king is six inches, and despite his tiny height, he considers himself the greatest living man on earth. He nurtures acute pride. On the other hand, the height of the Brobdingnagian king is sixty feet. Despite having a vast body, his personality is void of vanity. He is simple and naive. He takes food with his family members, whereas the Lilliputian king has not been seen taking food with his family. Since the Lilliputian king is corrupted, he can be considered as the emblem of a lousy politician. He rules with pride. John Acton, an English Catholic Historian, said, Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That element can be seen expressly in the personality of the Lilliputian king. On the other hand, the Brobdingnagian king possesses an outstanding personality with which he rules with no fear and love. He is kind, benevolent, gracious, and always seeks the well-being of his subjects.

The nature of their inquisitiveness

Both Lilliputian and Brobdingnagian kings are inquisitive about Gulliver, but the nature of their inquisitiveness poles apart. Gulliver is arrested, searched, and his belongings are taken away by the command of the Lilliputian king. But the readers will find a different picture in the treatment of Brobdingnagian king toward Gulliver. He is amazed to see Gulliver as Gulliver is very much tiny compare to him. Then he sends three scholars to examine Gulliver. The king likes Gulliver and directs his queen to take particular care of Gulliver.

Recruitment formulas in the officials

The Lilliputian king arranges rope dancing and sticks moving contests to select candidates for the higher positions. The system is ridiculous and goes against the self-respect. But instead of caring whether someone is eligible in a particular post or not, he cares whether they are unconditionally loyal to him or not. Whereas, the king of Brobdingnag believes that the state can be run through common sense and justice. He looks for perfect and potential candidates for the higher officials.

Philosophy about chauvinism and militarism

The king of Lilliput is imperialistic. He was the delight and terror of the universe who wants to rule the whole universe. So he wants Gulliver’s help to destroy all the ships of Gulliver and when Gulliver refuses to do that the emperor becomes displeased and plans to punish him. He also maintains a huge army and brags about it. The Brobdingnagian king, on the other hand, is virtuous and honest. He is a peace-loving man. When Gulliver tells him about the military, mercenary, and wants to tell him about making gun powder, he gets surprised. He finds no reason for these because a peaceful country does not need all these things. So in that case as well The Brobdingnagian king is totally opposite of Lilliputian king.


The sincerity of the Brobdingnagian king is unprecedented. He is serious about education. He appointed a tutor for Glumdalclitch as she has to live inside the palace with Gulliver. On the contrary, the Lilliputian king is cruel. In his regime, a baby as soon as it is born is snatched away from its parents. In his system, a farmer’s son will always be a farmer. There will be no exception. In that case, the readers can find the system of the Brobdingnagian king is appreciable.

The differences between the two kings are vivid. The depiction of the king of Lilliput is more or less a caricature, but the depiction of the kind of Brobdingnag will create admiration in readers’ minds. The Lilliputian king is oppressive and tyrant while the Brobdingnagian king is peace-loving and devoted to the prosperity of his nation. While the Lilliputian king is selfish, the Brobdingnagian king is very much honest and afraid of war. To sum up, the readers can be able to figure out several elements from the juxtaposed refutation of both the kings’ traits which are, the Lilliputian king is tiny and the Brobdingnag king is giant; the Lilliputian liege only craves for amusement and exercises his authority arbitrarily, whereas The king of Brobdingnag is an honest rational ruler who cares about his people and likes to contemplate regarding the intricacies of life; the Lilliputian lord has a narrow minds and spirits, on the other hand The gigantic Brobdingnagian king is intellectual, and has also got morals. Swift through designing the Lilliputians satirizes the corrupt political exercises while Swift not only displays the the Brobdingnagian administrative system to satire the authority but he designs the king of Brobdingnag to satirize the then English government.

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