Message 131: Gulliver’s Travels

Following are four lines from “Go to Sleep,” song 5 on Hail to the Thief:

We don’t really want a monster taking over
Tiptoe around tie him down
We don’t want the loonies taking over
Tiptoe around tie ’em down

These lyrics indirectly reference Part One of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, wherein the protagonist, Mr. Lemuel Gulliver, visits and is imprisoned in the country of Lilliput. After a shipwreck, Gulliver washes up on the shore of Lilliput and falls asleep. While he is sleeping, the inhabitants, who are “not six inches high,” tie him down.

One reply on “Message 131: Gulliver’s Travels”

It’s worth pointing out here, that if Thom really is referring to Gulliver’s Travels, then he is doing it from the perspective of the Lilliputians.

Within the context of the novel, Lemuel Gulliver is the pacifist who seeks to resolve problems between two enraged families (not completely unlike the Montagues and Capulets). And so despite the fact that Lilliput’s inhabitants originally view him as an alien intruder, capable of mass destruction… as it turns out he represents a kind of saviour.

The “Monster taking over” in Gulliver’s Travels isn’t really a monster at all, he is simply perceived as one. And so if you take the Gulliver reference literally within ‘Go to Sleep’ it does make things just a little confusing (is Thom saying that we are wrong to tie him down? As he is the real peace keeper among us?)

As a sidenote, later on in the novel, it is Gulliver who is seen for his faults and idiosyncracies, in the Land of the Houyhnhms.

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