Discussion questions – Gulliver’s Travels Book I: “A Voyage to Lilliput”

On the specific level in Book I, most commentators agree that Swift is using Gulliver as a composite (combined into one) figure of three Tories: Swift himself, Robert Harley, and Viscount Bolingbroke. Harley and Bolingbroke served in the last ministry of Queen Anne as members of the Tory party. Swift shifted from the Whig party to the Tories not long after the Whigs gained the upper hand in the political struggles (he was slighted by the Whigs in several important political appointments.) The Whigs, when they seized power, formed “The Committee of Secrecy” to investigate their political rivals. The description of the search and the inventory of the findings refer to this committee. What comments does Swift make in this section on the activities of this committee?

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