More Eggs

"It is allowed on hall hands, that the primitive way of breaking egge befor we eat them, was upon the larger end: but his present Majesty's grandfather, while he was a boy, going to eat an egg, and breaking it according to the ancient practice, happened to cut one of his fingers. Whereupon the Emperor his father published an edict, commanding all his subjects, upon great penalties, to break the smaller end of thier eggs. The people so highly resented this law, that our histories tell us there have been six rebellions raised on that account; wherein one emperor lost his life, and another his crown. These civil commotions were constantly fomented by the monarchs of Blefuscu; and when they were quelled, the exiles always fled for refuge to that empire. It is computed, that eleven thousand persons have, at several times, suffered death, rather than submit to break thier eggs at the smaller end. Many hundred large volumes have been published upon this controversy: but the books of the Big-Endians have been long forbidden, and the whole party rendered incapable by law of holding employments. During the course of these troubles, the emperors of Blefuscu did frequentely expostulable by thier ambassadors, accusing us of making a schism in religion, by offending against a fundamental doctrine of our great prophet Lustrog, in the fifty-fourth chapter of the Brundecral (which is thier Alcoran). This, however, is thought to be a mere upon the text:for the words are these; That all true believers shall break thier eggs at the convenient end: and which is the convenient end, seems, in my humble opinion, to be left to every man's conscience, or a least in the power of the chief magistrate to determine".

-Gulliver's Travels

All this point during Gulliver's extended stay on Lilliput, he learns of a period in Lilliput's history that parallels a period of Englis history. The Big-Endians and the Little-Endians represent the Catholics and the Protestants, respectively. The egg allegory begins with an explanation of why Lilliputians must break thier eggs on the smaller end. Breaking the egg on the big end was the "ancient practice". But since the son of a ruling Emperor long ago in Lilliputian history cut one of his fingers breaking the big end of an egg, the Emperor decided that everyone must break thier eggs on the little end.

This mirrors the transition from Catholicism to Protestantism/Anglicanism because Henry VIII didn't agree with all of the Catholic sacraments. He created his own church to get a divorce. The Lilliputians have problems similar to the English problems: revolts. The English were divided by the two churches as were the Lilliputians. However, one of the Lilliputian's holy texts states "that all true believers shall break thier eggs at the convenient end. "Gulliver's opinion is "which is the convenient end, seems... to be left to every man's conscience." Regardles of what a Lilliputian or a Englishman believes, he should not insist his beliefs are the righ ones and force them onto others.

Yet Gulliver continues on and states which end is righ is "in the power of the magistrate to determine." The ruling body of a country, according to Gulliver, would not be over-stepping its bounds if it declared which end of the egg is right to break. This interferes with a choice which should be left to "every man's conscience," and causes all the problems for the Lilliputians. Those who do not believe what the ruling body believes revolt.

These revolts are a form of spiritual unrest on a political level. Every individual first must chose what to believe, and then live with the decision. Choosing against the ruling body leaves an individual in a rough position with difficult choices. Should he make his beliefs known, in hopes of finding others who might join him, and possibly revolt? Should he keep his beliefs to himself, and live within a system with which he disagrees? Or shoukd he change his beliefs to live harmoniously beneath the ruling body? In the case of the Lilliputians, the "eleven thousand persons" who have "suffered death, rather than submit" answer the many questions with finality: maintain personal beliefs, and the prepared to suffer the consequences.