Might vs. Right In Jonathon Swift’s Gulliver’s Travel there are many characters who have power over others, some of these characters abuse it other characters do not. Swift gives many details and examples of how the character uses or abuses his or her power. Swift relates many of his characters to real life people of his time The first occurrence of this theme happens when Gulliver washes up on the island of the Lulliputains after his boat was capsized by a huge storm.
Gulliver awakens to his arm, legs, and body tied down and is unable to move. He is surrounded by a abundance of miniature like people. Though Gulliver showed no sign of aggression the Lulliputains, despite their small size, still took full advantage over Gulliver and attack him with arrows. The emperor who rules Luptin thinks he can control Gulliver and has him chained and guarded by soldiers. “The emperor is both a satire of the autocratic ruler and a strangely serious portrait of political power. ”(Sparknotes. com).
Swift uses The Emperor to represent King George I. Just like King George, The Emperor abuses his power and hires his ministers on how well he likes them rather then their suitability, wisdom, or virtue. The Emperor of Luptin also loves war and wants to use Gulliver’s size to enslave the neighboring island Blefuscu. Although Gulliver refuses to do so, this can be compared to King George I war on Spanish Succession. The Brobdingnagians could dominate with their superior size if they wished but for the must part they do not.
Gulliver is taken by a farmer when he lands on the island of Brobdingnag who Gulliver estimates is around seventeen foot tall. The farmer at doesn’t take advantage of his great size but he eventually uses Gulliver as a display around Brobdingnag for money. In General the Brobdingnagians do not abuse their power. The King of Brobdingnag is offered the secret of gunpowder but he refuses to take this, even though gunpowder could vastly increase the power of his nation.
The Queen of Brobdingnag finds Gulliver and buys him off the farmer for a thousand pieces of gold. The Queen finds Gulliver quite interesting and thinks of him not as a pet but as fellow Brobdingnagian. Throughout the story Swift likes to draw questions through his characters on why people hold power over others. A key example of this is how The Laputan King thinks he has the right to hold power over the Balnirbarbians simply because he is more devoted to abstract and theoretical knowledge then they are.
A more ambiguous example of this power is how the Houyhnhnms control the Yahoos. The Houyhnhnms are intelligent, moral and virtuous people but it is still questionable on whether they should rule the Yahoos. “The Yahoos are greedy, beastlike humans who will fight over anything valuable and will eat enough food for ten. ”(shmoop. com). Even though the Houyhmhnms are great creatures it is still inhuman that they should take control of the Yahoos who are less fortunate than them. Might vs. ight or, abuse or use of power, is a reoccurring theme in Gulliver’s Travels. Swift uses this theme to draw a deeper meaning into the story. The question of why people hold power over others is one that is asked throughout the novel. Swift puts you into each of leaders shoes and gets the reader to think of what they would do if they were in this situation. Would people use to power that was given to them to do great things or would people abuse their power to control and strip freedom from others.