Gulliver’s Travels Essay
Gulliver’s Travels is not really a children’s book, but it has been seen as a children’s story right from the start: little people, big people, talking horses. It was first published in 1726. At the time that Swift published Gulliver’s Travels, he was dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. The book, which made fun of the political scene and certain prominent people in England, was published anonymously and was a great success. In each of the three stories in this book, the hero, Lemuel Gulliver, embarks on a voyage, but, as in the Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor on which the stories may in part have been based, some calamity befalls him.
First, Gulliver arrives in Lilliput, where he finds himself a giant, held prisoner by tiny men. They are initially afraid of him, but he gradually wins their trust and eventually helps them in their war against Blefuscu. The second land he visits is called Brobdingnag, a land of giants. Gulliver, now a tiny person, has to work as a freak in a show at first but is then rescued by the Queen and has long talks with the King. Gulliver finally ends up in the land of the Houyhnhnms, peaceful horses who have created a perfect society, except for the presence of monkey-like Yahoos.
Although Gulliver looks like a well-kempt Yahoo, he wants to be a Houyhnhnm. Finally, he has to leave because he does not fit into this society. Summary of Part I: A Journey to Lilliput Gulliver sets off on the ship Antelope to the South Seas, but strong winds wreck it. Gulliver lands on an island and when he wakes up he finds himself tied to the ground. A large number of little men (no larger than Gulliver’s hands) keep him prisoner and when he tries to break free, they attack him with arrows. Gulliver stays still not to get hurt.
Then they bring him food and drink and plan to take him to the king but still tied with strings. He is given a house, an old church, but Gulliver is still tied to the wall of the church. Lilliputians think he is dangerous. Some men attack Gulliver and when the king’s men throw them to Gulliver, he pretends he is going to eat them, but then sets them free. Gulliver is kind, so the king will not kill him, and he teaches Gulliver their language. The king promises to untie Gulliver’s strings if he follows his written rules. Gulliver hands over his belongings: his sword and his guns.
Now he can walk again. Gulliver learns about the war between Lilliput and Blefuscu and offers to help the king: he pulls forty large Blefuscu ships to Lilliput. The king is happy, but as he is very ambitious he wants Gulliver to help him kill the Big-enders, enemies of his people, the Little-enders. Gulliver refuses to do so. The people from Blefuscu and Lilliput finally put an end to their war. The king of Blefuscu invites Gulliver to his island. Gulliver finally decides to leave Lilliput and goes to the enemy island. After a short stay at Blefuscu, Gulliver leaves for home.
The book begins with a short preamble in which Lemuel Gulliver, in the style of books of the time, gives a brief outline of his life and history before his voyages. He enjoys travelling, although it is that love of travel that is his downfall. During his first voyage, Gulliver is washed ashore after a shipwreck and finds himself a prisoner of a race of tiny people, less than 6 inches tall, who are inhabitants of the island country of Lilliput. After giving assurances of his good behaviour, he is given a residence in Lilliput and becomes a favorite of the court.
From there, the book follows Gulliver’s observations on the Court of Lilliput. He is also given the permission to roam around the city on a condition that he must not harm their subjects. Gulliver assists the Lilliputians to subdue their neighbours, the Blefuscudians, by stealing their fleet. However, he refuses to reduce the island nation of Blefuscu to a province of Lilliput, displeasing the King and the court. Gulliver is charged with treason for, among other “crimes”, “making water” in the capital (even though he was putting out a fire and saving countless lives. He is convicted and sentenced to be blinded, but with the assistance of a kind friend, he escapes to Blefuscu. Here he spots and retrieves an abandoned boat and sails out to be rescued by a passing ship, which safely takes him back home. This book of the Travels is a topical political satire.  Summary of Part II: Gulliver in Brobdingnag When Gulliver sets off again to the Indies, his ship is hit by another storm and he is once again marooned on an unknown island: Brobdingnag, land of giants.
He lives on a farm and the farmer’s daughter teaches Gulliver their language. The farmer, an ambitious man, makes money by showing Gulliver around the country. Gulliver falls ill. When he is brought before the queen of Brobdingnag she buys Gulliver because she likes him a lot. The farmer’s daughter stays with him. The king shows interest in England’s political system and asks Gulliver questions which embarrass him. He wants to impress the king with his country’s wonders only to discover that in Brobdingnag there is no war and people help each other instead of fighting.
His happy stay ends when a huge bird lifts him high into the air then drops him into the sea, but he is soon rescued and on his way back home again. When the sailing ship Adventure is blown off course by storms and forced to put into land for want of fresh water, Gulliver is abandoned by his companions and found by a farmer who is 72 feet (22 m) tall (the scale of Brobdingnag is about 12:1, compared to Lilliput’s 1:12, judging from Gulliver estimating a man’s step being 10 yards (9. 1 m)).
He brings Gulliver home and his daughter cares for Gulliver. The farmer treats him as a curiosity and exhibits him for money. Since Gulliver is too small to use their huge chairs, beds, knives and forks, the queen commissions a small house to be built for him so that he can be carried around in it; this is referred to as his ‘travelling box’. Between small adventures such as fighting giant wasps and being carried to the roof by a monkey, he discusses the state of Europe with the King.
The King is not happy with Gulliver’s accounts of Europe, especially upon learning of the use of guns and cannons. On a trip to the seaside, his travelling box is seized by a giant eagle which drops Gulliver and his box into the sea, where he is picked up by some sailors, who return him to England. This book compares the truly moral man to the representative man; the latter is clearly shown to be the lesser of the two. Swift, being in Anglican holy orders, was keen to make such comparisons.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 20 November 2016
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