Cite This Page
Gulliver's Travels Part 3, Chapter 1 Summary Page 1
"The author sets out on his third voyage. Is taken by pirates. The malice of a Dutchman. His arrival at an island. He is received into Laputa."
- After 10 days back home, Gulliver gets a visit from a former captain of his, William Robinson, who offers him a position on Robinson's ship as a surgeon.
- Gulliver agrees.
- After a year of travel, the ship heads to Tonquin, part of modern-day Vietnam.
- The captain has to stay ashore in Tonquin for several months, but he wants to make some profit.
- The captain buys a small boat and appoints Gulliver the leader of it, with 14 sailors under him, so that they can continue doing business while the captain hangs out on land.
- This small boat is captured by two ships of Japanese pirates (who were, incidentally, a serious threat to sailors in the seas around China and Southeast Asia, particularly in the seventeenth century.)
- The Japanese pirates are accompanied by a Dutchman, who tells the English that he wants them to be tied up and thrown into the sea.
- Gulliver begs him to let them go, but his requests seem only to make the Dutchman angrier – especially Gulliver's references to the Dutchman as a "brother Christian" (3.1.7).
- (For an explanation of this oddness, check out "Why Swift Seems to Hate the Dutch So Much," under the "Japan" section of "Character Analysis.")
- The pirate captains finally decide to split Gulliver's crew between their two ships and to set Gulliver adrift in a small canoe with a little bit of food.
- Gulliver uses his canoe to row to some tiny local islands nearby, but he can't find much food or shelter on any of them.
- While he's standing on the fifth and last island, Gulliver sees a shadow blot out the sun.
- He takes out his telescope, looks up, and sees that it is a floating island covered with people. (This is the island of Laputa.)
- Gulliver manages to signal to these people that he needs help, and they eventually steer overhead and let down a chain for Gulliver to climb up.