Chapter 3 page 54
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The emperor decides to entertain Gulliver by showing him a tradition of the court in which candidates for an open position of honor compete by walking to the middle of a string or tight-rope that is suspended two-and-a-half feet above the ground. They jump as high as they are able. "Whoever jumps the highest without falling succeeds in the Office." Gulliver tells the reader that very often these competitors are injured or fall to their death. This shows the Emperor to be amused by silliness and entertained at the expense of others. By describing a society that chooses its highest officials with silly competitions like seeing who can jump the highest on a tight-rope, Swift is poking fun at the way officials are chosen in England. He is also commenting on the disturbing trend of politicians who are willing to do whatever it takes to gain favor in the court-including humiliating themselves. The danger of ambition is also figured here; jumping badly can lead to death.