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Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels


by Jonathan Swift

Lemuel Gulliver Timeline and Summary

  • Lemuel Gulliver gets married and then promptly leaves his wife for the South Seas.
  • He is shipwrecked off the shore of Lilliput, where he is taken captive as he sleeps.
  • Gulliver's captors are a nation of six inch-tall people.
  • Gulliver slowly becomes friends with the Emperor of the Lilliputians.
  • This Emperor requests Gulliver's help in his war against the neighboring (and identically tiny) island Blefuscu.
  • Gulliver steals all of Blefuscu's war ships, bringing peace between the two nations.
  • But because Gulliver refuses to follow the Emperor of Lilliput's orders to enslave the Blefuscudians, he is eventually forced to leave Lilliput.
  • Gulliver flees to Blefuscu. There, Gulliver builds a boat that takes him to Australia, where he catches a ship home to England.
  • Gulliver stays in England for about two seconds before heading out again.
  • This time, he is shipwrecked on the island of Brobdingnag, the land of the giants.
  • Gulliver becomes a kind of freak show attraction.
  • He becomes so famous that the Queen of Brobdingnag buys him as a pet and hires a little girl, Glumdalclitch, to care for him and teach him their language.
  • Gulliver enjoys being taken care of by Glumdalclitch, but he does not like being in constant danger.
  • Because Gulliver is so tiny, anything could kill him: puppies, monkeys, eagles, anything.
  • Gulliver's vulnerability makes him ridiculous to the King of Brobdingnag.
  • The King asks Gulliver to describe England, which Gulliver does.
  • The King of Brobdingnag replies that England seems like a cesspool of vice and corruption, which Gulliver can't deny.
  • Through a complicated accident involving a bird and Gulliver's traveling box, he eventually escapes Brobdingnag.
  • He's picked up by a passing ship bound for England.
  • Again, after a short stay at home, Gulliver heads out to sea.
  • This time, he is marooned by pirates on an empty island.
  • As he wonders what to do, he notices an island floating overhead. Gulliver signals for help, and the floating islanders bring him aboard.
  • The island is called Laputa, and it is home to abstract mathematicians with no practical skills.
  • Bored with these ivory tower types, Gulliver goes down to the continent below, Balnibarbi.
  • There, he visits the Royal Academy of Lagado. He meets lots of scientists with big ideals and absolutely no know-how.
  • Getting fed up with all of this abstract thought to no purpose, Gulliver starts traveling towards Japan, where he can catch a boat home.
  • On the way, he stops at Glubbdubdrib to visit with the great ghosts of history.
  • He also goes to Luggnagg, where he meets the strulbrugs, a race of people who age eternally. Not a pretty sight.
  • Finally, Gulliver makes it to Japan, where he poses as a Dutch sailor so that he can hitch a ride with a Dutch merchant ship back to Europe.
  • Gulliver spends about two months in England before going back to his travels.
  • After a mutiny on board his ship, he is marooned on an island populated with two races.
  • There are the hideous, beastly Yahoos (who are people). And the beautiful, rational Houyhnhnms (who are horses).
  • The Houyhnhnms keep the Yahoos chained in stables to act as beasts of burden. Houyhnhnm Land Yahoos are violent, cowardly, and can't speak.
  • Gulliver realizes that he, too, is a Yahoo.
  • He is filled with self-disgust, and starts attempting to follow the teachings of his friend and protector, the Master Horse.
  • Gulliver decides that he never wants to leave Houyhnhnm Land and return to England.
  • But the Houyhnhnms decide that he can't stay: he's too smart a Yahoo to be safe. They worry that he will make the other Yahoos rebel against the Houyhnhnms.
  • So, Gulliver is banished from Houyhnhnm Land.
  • Eventually, he makes his way reluctantly back to Europe.
  • When Gulliver gets home, he still so disgusted by other people that he can't stand to be in the same room with his wife and children for a long time.
  • Even five years after leaving Houyhnhnm Land, he can only just tolerate having dinner in the same room with his wife, if she sits far away from him.