Study Guide

Gulliver's Travels Summary

By Jonathan Swift

Gulliver's Travels Summary

Lemuel Gulliver is a married surgeon from Nottinghamshire, England, who has a taste for traveling. He heads out on a fateful voyage to the South Seas when he gets caught in a storm and washed up on an island. This island, Lilliput, has a population of tiny people about 6 inches tall. They capture Gulliver as he sleeps and carry him to their capital city, where they keep him chained inside a large abandoned temple outside the city walls.

Gulliver becomes a great friend of the Emperor of Lilliput, who introduces Gulliver to many of their customs. For example, instead of staffing his cabinet with capable administrators, the Emperor chooses guys who perform best at a dangerous kind of rope dancing. The Emperor asks Gulliver to help him in his war against Blefuscu, a similarly tiny kingdom across a channel of water. Gulliver agrees and uses his huge size to capture all of Blefuscu's navy.

In spite of the great service that Gulliver has done for the Lilliputians, he has two terrible enemies, who seem to be jealous of his strength and favor with the Emperor: the admiral Skyresh Bolgolam and the treasurer Flimnap. These two men conspire to influence the Emperor to have Gulliver executed. They serve Gulliver with a series of Articles of Impeachment, with the final sentence that Gulliver is going to be blinded. (The ministers also decide, in secret, that they are going to starve Gulliver to save money on the enormous amount of food he eats.) Gulliver is informed of this plot against him by a friend at the Lilliputian court. He manages to escape to the island of Blefuscu. Fortunately for him, a human-sized boat washes ashore on Blefuscu. Gulliver rows to nearby Australia and finds a boat to take him back to England.

Gulliver heads out to sea again after a brief stay in England with his family (who, we have to say, he doesn't seem to like all that much). Once again, a storm blows up, and Gulliver winds up on the island of Brobdingnag. The Brobdingnag are giants 60 feet tall, who treat Gulliver like an attraction at a fair. Gulliver comes to the attention of the Brobdingnagian Queen, who keeps him like a kind of pet. She is amused, because he is so tiny and yet still manages to speak and act like a real person. This Queen employs a young girl, Glumdalclitch, to look after Gulliver and teach him their language. Glumdalclitch does this with great affection.

While Gulliver lives at the palace, he is constantly in danger: bees the size of pigeons almost stab him, a puppy almost tramples him to death, a monkey mistakes him for a baby monkey and tries to stuff him full of food. Because Gulliver feels ridiculous all the time, he starts to lose some of the pride and self-importance he couldn't help having in Lilliput.

The Brobdingnagian King reinforces this new sense of humility. After Gulliver describes to him all that he can think of about English culture and history, the King of Brobdingnag decides that the English sound like tiny little pests. He absolutely refuses to accept Gulliver's gift of gunpowder because such weapons seem like an invitation to horrible violence and abuse.

Finally, Gulliver leaves Brobdingnag by a bizarre accident and returns home to England. He only stays there for about two months, however, when he goes to sea again. This time, he gets marooned by pirates on a small island near Vietnam. As he's sitting on this island, he sees a shadow passing overhead: a floating island called Laputa. He signals the Laputians for help and is brought up by rope.

The Laputians are dedicated to only two things, mathematics and music. But their love of equations makes them really poor at practical things, so no one in the kingdom can make a good suit of clothes or build a house. And in imitation of the Laputians' abstract science, the residents of the continent below, Balnibarbi, have been steadily ruining their farms and buildings with newfangled "reforms."

Gulliver also visits Glubbdubdrib, an island of sorcerers where he gets to meet the ghosts of famous historical figures, and Luggnagg, an island with an absolute king and also some very unfortunate immortals. He makes his way to Japan and then back to England once more – this time, for five months, before he sets out again, leaving his family behind once again.

This time, Gulliver sails out as a captain in his own right, but his sailors quickly mutiny against him and maroon him on a distant island. This island is home to two kinds of creatures: (a) the beastly Yahoos, violent, lying, disgusting animals; and (b) the Houyhnhnms, who look like horses. The Houyhnhnms govern themselves with absolute reason. They do not even have words for human problems like disease, deception, or war. As for the Yahoos – they are human beings. They are just like Gulliver, except that Gulliver has learned to clip his nails, shave his face, and wear clothes.

In Houyhnhnm Land, Gulliver finally realizes the true depths of human awfulness. He grows so used to the Houyhnhnm way of life that, when the Houyhnhnms finally tell him he must leave, he immediately faints. Gulliver obediently leaves the land of the Houyhnhnms, where he has been very happy, but he is so disgusted with human company that he nearly jumps off the Portuguese ship carrying home.

Once Gulliver returns to his family, he feels physical revulsion at the thought that he had sex with a Yahoo female (his wife) and had three Yahoo children. He can barely be in the same room with them. We leave Gulliver slowly reconciling himself to being among humans again, but he is still really, really sad not to be with the Houyhnhnms. In fact, he spends at least four hours a day talking to his two stallions in their stable. Lesson learned from Gulliver's Travels: the more we see of humans, the less we want to be one.

  • Part 1, Chapter 1

    "The author giveth some account of himself and family; his first inducements to travel. He is shipwrecked and swims for his life; gets safe on shore in the country of Lilliput; is made a prisoner, and carried up the country."

    • Our hero, Lemuel Gulliver, starts out his adventures with a description of his origins: he's from Nottinghamshire in England, and he has spent several years at college at Cambridge.
    • Sadly, Gulliver's father runs out of money for young Gulliver's education, so he sends Gulliver as an apprentice (read: someone who works for a skilled tradesman in exchange for first-hand, practical training in said trade) to Mr. James Bates, a London surgeon.
    • Gulliver also spends a lot of time studying math and navigation, because he wants to travel.
    • Eventually, with the financial help of his uncle, his father, and some other relatives, Gulliver travels to Leyden (now Leiden, a city in Holland), where there is a famous university known for its teaching of medicine.
    • After studying at Leyden for a couple of years, Gulliver returns to England, where Mr. Bates gives Gulliver a recommendation to join the crew of the ship the Swallow as a surgeon.
    • Gulliver travels for three years on the Swallow and gets as far as the Levant (a.k.a. the eastern portion of the Mediterranean and the areas that border it, including parts of Egypt, Syria, Israel, Lebanon, and Turkey.)
    • He comes back to London and settles down to marry Mrs. Mary Burton, who comes with a dowry (read: a certain amount of money settled on her by her family once she marries) of 400 pounds – nice for Gulliver!
    • Gulliver's former boss and current patron, Mr. Bates dies a couple of years later, and Gulliver's business starts to go bad.
    • Gulliver decides to go to sea again, traveling this time to the Far East and the West Indies.
    • He spends a lot of time reading while he's at sea; when Gulliver is ashore, he enjoys observing the customs of the people he meets.
    • But even the sea starts to lose its interest for Gulliver, and he decides to head home to London to hang out with his wife.
    • Gulliver moves his business to various parts of London, but he continues to fail at making a living, so he hits the sea once again three years later.
    • He sets sail with Captain William Prichard on the Antelope, heading to the South Seas (in other words, the oceans south of the equator.)
    • As you might expect, things go wrong. All of the following happens in one long paragraph:
      1. A storm blows up.
      2. The ship winds up in the Northwest of "Van Diemen's Land" – what we now call Tasmania, an area in the southeast of Australia.
      3. 12 members of the ship's crew die and the rest are weakened by hard work and lack of food.
      4. High currents and rough seas make it hard for the crew to get from the ship's anchorage point to shore.
      5. So the Antelope sends six crew members, Gulliver included, in a small rowboat to go to shore.
      6. The boat capsizes and all of the six sailors except for Gulliver drown.
      7. In the water, Gulliver totally loses track of where he is, but he still manages eventually to find his way to a shore.
      8. Gulliver's feeling a bit sleepy from all of this exercise and the half-pint of brandy he drank onboard ship before getting into this rowboat, so he lies down to sleep.
      9. He wakes up at dawn after a lovely nap in the grass.
      10. Gulliver tries to stand up, but he can't move at all. He's stuck lying on his back.
      11. Gulliver notices that his arms and legs and even his long hair all appear to be tied down.
      12. He can't look right or left, so he has no idea what is happening, but he does feel something moving across his chest towards his chin.
      13. Gulliver turns his eyes down to look over his chin and he sees a tiny, tiny human being, no bigger than the length of Gulliver's finger.
      14. The tiny fellow is carrying a tiny, tiny bow with lots of tiny, tiny arrows – and there are also around 40 other tiny guys following him. (Incidentally, these tiny people are the Lilliputians – residents of Swift's made-up island of Lilliput.)
      15. Gulliver yells in fright at the sight of all of these tiny people. At this roar, they jump or fall back in fear.
      16. Gulliver manages to break the strings tying down his left arm, but the strings attached to his hair really hurt, so he can still barely turn his head.
      17. The little people all run away a second time – and they shoot his left hand full of about a hundred arrows. Some of them try to stick his sides with itsy bitsy spears, but they can't get through his leather vest.
      18. Gulliver decides to lie still until nighttime, when he might be able to use his left hand to free himself.
      19. But he can hear a huge number of people massing: more and more of the little people arrive, and they start building something near him.
      20. It appears to be a stage, from which an important little person recites a speech to Gulliver. Gulliver can't understand the speech, but he does hear the words, "Langro Dehul san" (1.1.5). Gulliver deliberately acts as submissive as he can during this to indicate that he intends no harm.
      21. Gulliver is hungry, thirsty, and really has to pee, so he gestures with his left hand that he needs to eat and drink.
      22. The important little person making speeches is called the "Hurgo" (1.1.5), and he orders his people to bring Gulliver food.
      23. All the tiny people are amazed at how much Gulliver can eat and drink.
      24. The tiny people keep dancing around in joy as they watch him stuffing himself and drinking their wine.
      25. (By the way, Gulliver keeps talking about "hogsheads" of wine. A hogshead is a large barrel that, in normal human terms, holds many gallons. For these people, a hogshead holds less than half a pint.) They all shout, "Hekinah Degul."
      26. Gulliver has to admit that he's impressed: these people seem totally fine with climbing onto his body and walking around even though they know his left hand is free – and even though he's a giant to them.
      27. After Gulliver finishes eating, a representative of the Imperial House climbs the scaffolding to talk to Gulliver.
      28. Through sign language, the representative of the Emperor manages to get across that Gulliver must be carried as their prisoner to the capital city about half a mile away. Gulliver wants to go free, but the Emperor won't allow it. Gulliver will be well treated, though.
      29. Gulliver thinks about fighting, but changes his mind when he sees the number of little people has increased. He agrees.
      30. The Hurgo and all of his people climb down and get out of the way.
      31. The strings binding Gulliver's left side are loosened enough that Gulliver can roll over and pee (or "make water," as he puts it).
      32. The little people also treat Gulliver's tiny arrow wounds, which makes his injuries stop stinging.
      33. So all in all, what with the food, the peeing, and the medical treatment, Gulliver stops freaking out and starts feeling sleepy again.
      34. He crashes for about eight hours – thanks, he discovers later, to a sleeping potion in his wine.
    • And that's the end of this super-long paragraph!
    • Gulliver discovers later that the Emperor is the one who ordered that Gulliver be tied up and fed in this way so that he could be brought to the capital city.
    • Gulliver says, you may think this whole drugging thing seems like a cowardly thing do, but really, it's smart. After all, if they had tried to kill Gulliver as he slept, their tiny weapons would have woken him up. His rage might have given him the strength to break the ropes they used to tie him.
    • These tiny people are great mechanics and already have lots of machines designed for hauling trees and other heavy things.
    • Using a system of pullies, they hoist Gulliver onto one of these machines and tie him to it.
    • 1,500 of the Emperor's horses, all of which are about four and a half inches high, drag Gulliver to the capital city.
    • Gulliver falls asleep yet again (what is up with this guy?), but he wakes up about four hours into their trip. Gulliver awakens because one of his guards climbs onto Gulliver's face and sticks his spear up Gulliver's left nostril. Gulliver sneezes violently, and the guards sneak off.
    • Finally, Gulliver and all of his guards make it to the capital city, where they are met by the Emperor and his Court.
    • Gulliver is tied to an old, huge (by these people's standards) temple, which is no longer in use for religious purposes because a murder was once committed there.
    • Gulliver is kept tied down to the ground as the tiny people build him a set of chains, and many thousands of the city's inhabitants use the opportunity to come climb all over him.
    • Finally, Gulliver's chains are done, and he is freed of his ropes. He can finally stand up, for the first time since arriving in this land.
    • Gulliver's chains allow him to move immediately around the gate to his temple, so he can lie down inside the building or stand up outside of it.
  • Part 1, Chapter 2

    "The Emperor of Lilliput, attended by several of the nobility, comes to see the author in his confinement. The Emperor's person and habit described. Learned men appointed to teach the author their language. He gains favour by his mild disposition. His pockets are searched, and his sword and pistols taken from him."

    • When Gulliver stands up the next morning, he sees a beautiful landscape laid out in front of him, like a garden. None of the trees are taller than seven feet high, and all of the fields look like beds of flowers.
    • Gulliver's panicking a bit because it's now been about two days since he last peed. Finally, he decides to sneak back into his temple and go in a corner.
    • Gulliver assures us that this is the only time he does something as unsanitary as peeing in his own house.
    • For the rest of his stay in this country, every morning two tiny people come with wheelbarrows for him to relieve himself in, and then they take it away – not a job we envy.
    • Anyway, after relieving himself in the corner of the temple, Gulliver heads outside again. The Emperor comes to visit him and orders him to be given food and water.
    • Gulliver then describes the Emperor: he's a tiny bit taller than anyone else around him, with a strong, masculine face. He's around 28 and therefore "past his prime" (1.2.3), but he has been Emperor for seven years and has done a reasonably good job of it.
    • The Emperor wears simple clothing, but he also carries a gold, jewel-encrusted helmet and sword.
    • The Emperor and Gulliver try to speak to each other for a couple of hours, but even though Gulliver speaks a bit of German (what he called "High Dutch"), Dutch (or "Low Dutch"), Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, and Lingua Franca, they still can't talk to each other.
    • The Emperor and his Court clear out.
    • Gulliver has to deal with a huge crowd that has gathered around him in curiosity.
    • Six members of the crowd get rowdy and shoot at him with their arrows.
    • His guard catches the wrongdoers, ties them up, and gives them to Gulliver for punishment.
    • He puts five of them in his pocket and the sixth, he pretends that he is going to eat. But then he just takes out his pocketknife, cuts the guy's ropes, sets him on the ground, and lets him go. Gulliver's mercy makes him really popular with the little folk.
    • Gulliver spends about two weeks sleeping on the floor of his temple while the Emperor orders a bed to be made for him.
    • As the news spreads that Gulliver has arrived in the capital city, lots of curious people pour into the city to see him.
    • The Emperor is concerned that all of this curiosity is going to lead people to neglect their homes and businesses. He orders that anyone who has seen Gulliver once has to go home, and that no one is allowed to come within fifty yards of his house without a license. This turns into a great money-making industry for the court.
    • Throughout this time, the Emperor is discussing what to do with Gulliver over the long term. A highly-ranked friend of Gulliver's who is in on the discussion tells Gulliver that:
      1. The Emperor is worried that Gulliver's eating habits will send the country into famine.
      2. They think of starving him or shooting him in the face and neck with poisoned arrows to kill him off. But then they would have to deal with his giant rotting corpse, which might bring a plague to the capital city.
      3. Everyone is so impressed with Gulliver's treatment of the six people who shot him with arrows that the Imperial Commission sends out an order to all the country's villages that they must send a certain amount of food and drink to the city for Gulliver every day.
      4. The Emperor orders six hundred people to wait on Gulliver, 300 tailors to make him a suit, and 6 scholars to teach Gulliver their language.
      5. After three weeks, Gulliver's got a good grasp of their speech, so he chats with the Emperor. He asks him regularly for his own freedom, but the Emperor always says: "Lumos Kelmin pesso desmar lon Emposo" – "Swear a peace with him and his kingdom" (1.2.6).
      6. The Emperor requests Gulliver's permission to have him searched, and Gulliver agrees.
      7. Gulliver helps the Emperor's guards into all of his pockets except one secret one, where he keeps some objects that, he says, should only matter to him. Gulliver also won't let them look at his two fobs (read: small vest pockets usually used for holding a watch), which contain a silver watch and a small amount of gold.
      8. The two guards then give Gulliver a careful inventory of what they have found on him, which they give to the Emperor.
    • And we have reached the end of another super-long paragraph!
    • Gulliver transcribes the guards' inventory into English.
    • Apparently, they call him "the Great Man Mountain" (1.2.7).
    • They describe all of these relatively common objects (at least, common in the eighteenth century) – a handkerchief, snuff (a kind of powdered tobacco for sniffing), comb, razor, knife, journal, and pocket watch – from the perspective of people utterly unfamiliar with what they are looking at. For example, a comb is described as "a sort of engine, from the back of which were extended twenty long poles" (1.2.7).
    • It also turns out that, even though Gulliver does not offer to put them in his watch pocket, they notice his watch chain coming out of said pocket, so he has to show them the contents anyway.
    • After searching Gulliver's pockets, the two guards see that Gulliver is wearing a leather belt around his waist. Attached to this belt is a large sword and a pouch for carrying gunpowder and shells.
    • The Emperor hears this inventory of Gulliver's possessions and then orders Gulliver to show his sword and pocket pistols.
    • The Emperor also signals three thousand of his troops to stay on hand during this display of Gulliver's weapons just in case.
    • So, when Gulliver takes his scimitar (a kind of curved sword) out of its scabbard (a sheath for a sword), all of the Emperor's troops shout because they think Gulliver's about to assassinate their Emperor.
    • But he doesn't, of course: Gulliver puts the scimitar back in its scabbard and places it on the ground.
    • Gulliver also loads his pistols and shoots into the air to demonstrate how a gun works to the Emperor.
    • The tiny people are so shocked by the sound that hundreds of them fall to the ground; even the Emperor takes some time to collect himself.
    • Gulliver then places his pistols and his firearms on the ground next to his sword.
    • Gulliver gives his watch, money, knife, razor, comb, snuffbox, handkerchief, and journal to the Emperor to examine – but these things, he gets back. The scimitar, pistols, and ammunition, on the other hand, get carted off to the Emperor's storehouses.
    • Inside the super-secret pocket that Gulliver does not reveal to the Emperor, he has: his glasses, a "pocket perspective" (1.2.11) (probably a magnifying glass or telescope), and "several other little conveniences" (1.2.11) he won't describe. These are all delicate objects that Gulliver is worried might get lost or broken if he shows them to anyone.
  • Part 1, Chapter 3

    "The author diverts the Emperor and his nobility of both sexes, in a very uncommon manner. The diversions of the court of Lilliput described. The author hath his liberty granted him upon certain conditions."

    • The Lilliputian court comes to like Gulliver thanks to his gentle behavior.
    • Because the Emperor admires Gulliver so much, the Emperor orders his people to put on a couple of shows for Gulliver
    • The main show is a kind of rope dancing, which is performed only by people who hold high office in Lilliput. In fact, in order to get a high office in Lilliput, you have to beat all the other candidates in this rope dancing competition. Skill at this dance is the main qualification for court positions.
    • Because the dance involves seeing who can jump the highest on a piece of rope without falling, there are lots of accidents. People try to jump too high or miss the rope and whatnot – and some of these falls are even fatal.
    • The Emperor also likes to make his court play a kind of limbo. Sometimes his courtiers creep under a stick he's holding and sometimes they jump over. Whoever jumps and crawls the best wins a prize from the emperor: a colored belt, like a karate belt, proving the winner's skills.
    • Gulliver invents a game to entertain the emperor: he sets up a raised stage using his handkerchief and a set of sticks.
    • On this stage, he sets a troop of 24 of the Emperor's horsemen to perform their maneuvers and drills.
    • This game goes on until one of the horses tears through the handkerchief with its hoof and injures itself; after that, Gulliver decides the handkerchief is too weak to support the Lilliputians.
    • As Gulliver gets busy entertaining the Emperor's court, he hears news that something else has washed ashore: a giant black thing that doesn't seem like a living creature.
    • It is, in fact, Gulliver's hat, which the Lilliputians drag to the capital. Gulliver is happy to get it back again.
    • The Emperor (whose sense of humor, we have to admit, seems kind of weak) decides that he wants Gulliver to pose standing with his legs as far apart as they can go.
    • The Emperor orders his troops to march between Gulliver's legs in rows of 24 men.
    • Even though the Emperor also tells his armies not to make any comments about Gulliver's body, a bunch of them can't help looking up and laughing.
    • Gulliver's pants are in such tatters at this point that he's flashing all of the Emperor's armies. There are, he tells us, "opportunities for laughter and admiration" (1.3.7) for the Lilliputians – after all, Gulliver implies, he's a giant, and his penis has to be proportionally huge.
    • Gulliver lobbies hard to be set free, and finally the whole court agrees, with one exception: Skyresh Bolgolam, who seems to feel he is Gulliver's enemy (Gulliver says, without reason).
    • Bolgolam at last agrees that Gulliver should be released, but only if Bolgolam can make the conditions for Gulliver's freedom.
    • The contract for Gulliver's freedom has the following rules:
      1. Gulliver won't leave Lilliput without permission;
      2. He won't come into the main city without the Emperor's permission and two hours of notice (because up until now, he's been chained to that temple just outside the city gates);
      3. The "man-mountain," as they continue to call him, will only walk on the kingdom's main roads, and will not lie down in any meadows or fields;
      4. He will be careful not to stomp on anyone or pick them up without their consent;
      5. Once a month, if there are particularly urgent messages the Emperor wants to send, Gulliver will have to carry the messenger and his horse to his destination and back again;
      6. Gulliver will defend Lilliput against their enemy, the island of Blefuscu;
      7. He will help workmen pick up stones to build walls and royal buildings;
      8. In two months' time, Gulliver will give the Emperor his calculation of how big the island of Lilliput is;
      9. If Gulliver observes all of these rules, the Emperor will provide Gulliver with food, drink, and "access to our royal person" (1.3.18) – in other words, Gulliver will get to spend as much time as he wants with the Emperor. Lucky guy!
    • Gulliver agrees to all of these rules, even though some of them seem to come from the pointless hatred of Skyresh Bolgolam.
    • The Emperor permits Gulliver to go free, and his chains are unlocked at last.
  • Part 1, Chapter 4

    "Mildendo, the metropolis of Lilliput, described, together with the emperor's palace. A conversation between the author and a principal secretary, concerning the affairs of that empire. The author's offers to serve the emperor in his wars."

    • After Gulliver gets his freedom, the first thing he does is to ask the Emperor if he can go into Mildendo, the main city of Lilliput.
    • The Emperor agrees, and Gulliver steps into the town. He walks through the main streets and visits the Emperor's palace.
    • At this point, Gulliver spends some time describing the state of Lilliput itself, as told to him by Redresal, the country's principal secretary.
    • Apparently, there are two rival factions in the empire, the Tramecksans and the Slamecksans.
    • The Tramecksans are also called the "high heels" because they wear high-heeled shoes; the Slamecksans are the "low heels."
    • Even though the high heels are big fans of Lilliput's constitution, the Emperor will only staff his government with representatives of the low heels. (And of course, since Redresal, the principal secretary, has a high post in the Emperor's cabinet, we can figure out that Redresal is also a low heel.)
    • The two parties hate each other so much that they can't eat, drink, or talk to each other.
    • While the Emperor's heels are definitely low, his son, the heir to the throne, seems less decided: one of his heels is high, the other, low, which makes it tough for him to walk around. (For more on what the heck Swift is talking about, see our "Character Analysis" of the Lilliputians.)
    • Not only is Lilliput divided inside, but it's also threatened from the outside by the island of Blefuscu, a second island empire "almost as large and powerful as this of his majesty" (1.4.5).
    • Redresal admits that there may be countries outside the Lilliput/Blefuscu binary, but Lilliput's philosophers think there probably aren't. They like to believe that Gulliver is an alien who has dropped from the moon.
    • The war between Lilliput and Blefuscu has been going on for three years.
    • It all started with the grandfather of the current Emperor, who cut his finger on an eggshell when he was a kid.
    • The Emperor's great-grandfather thinks that the reason his son cut his finger was because he broke his egg on its rounded, big end rather than the little, pointed end.
    • Even though, up until this moment, everyone had always cracked their eggs on the big end, the current Emperor's great-grandfather decrees that, from now on, everyone will have to crack their eggs on the little end – for safety's sake!
    • Redresal calls people who crack their eggs at the larger end Big-Endians; those who break their eggs at the smaller end are called Little-Endians.
    • (All this stuff with the eggs may sound totally nuts, but Swift is making a larger point about English politics and religion – check out our "Character Analysis" of the Lilliputians for an explanation of this scene.)
    • The people are so against this new egg-cracking law that they keep rebelling against the Emperor. These uprisings get funding from Blefuscu, which is a country of Big-Endians.
    • In fact, Blefuscu is currently calling up its navy for a full-scale invasion of Lilliput, because so many Big-Endian refugees from Lilliput's Little-Endian government have found their way to Blefuscu.
    • The Emperor of Lilliput expects Gulliver to use his strength to defend the island, which is why he has commanded Redresal to tell Gulliver about the Big-End/Little-End conflict.
    • Gulliver promises Redresal that he will do everything he can to protect Lilliput.
  • Part 1, Chapter 5

    "The author, by an extraordinary stratagem, prevents an invasion. A high title of honour is conferred upon him. Ambassadors arrive from the emperor of Blefuscu, and sue for peace. The empress's apartment on fire by an accident; the author instrumental in saving the rest of the palace."

    • Blefuscu is divided from Lilliput by a small channel about 800 yards wide – not even half a mile.
    • Gulliver plans to capture the whole Blefuscu fleet of ships, of which there are about 50.
    • He asks the Emperor for bars of iron and thick ropes. He twists the bars of iron into 50 separate hooks, which he attaches to lengths of the rope.
    • He wades and then swims across to the Blefuscudian fleet, where it is anchored in the shallows near the island of Blefuscu.
    • The Blefuscudians shoot arrows at Gulliver's face and neck, but he puts on a pair of glasses to protect his eyes and keeps going about his business.
    • Gulliver attaches each of his hooks to one of Blefuscu's ships, cuts the cables anchoring the ships in Blefuscu's harbor, and uses his hooks and bits of rope to tow the entire fleet across the channel.
    • As Gulliver approaches Lilliput, he's so deep in the water that the Emperor and his court can't see him. All they can see is the Blefuscudian fleet approaching Lilliput's shores.
    • Once Gulliver surfaces, they're all relieved to see that the fleet isn't attacking.
    • At first, the Emperor wants to use his military advantage to conquer Blefuscu and to destroy all Big-Endians forever.
    • Gulliver refuses to be a part of any plan that will make free people slaves.
    • The Emperor eventually gives in on this point, but he never forgives Gulliver for refusing to help him enslave Blefuscu. The Emperor starts to plot with some of his ministers to kill Gulliver.
    • About three weeks after Gulliver captures the Blefuscu fleet, a group of representatives of Blefuscu's Emperor come asking for a peace treaty with Lilliput.
    • They also invite Gulliver to come and visit Blefuscu.
    • Gulliver asks the Emperor of Lilliput for permission to go to Blefuscu. The Emperor agrees, but he's unhappy about it – Skyresh Bolgolam (Gulliver's enemy at court) and Flimnap (the treasurer of the country) both use Gulliver's desire to visit Blefuscu as evidence against his loyalty to Lilliput.
    • Even though the original terms of Gulliver's freedom include things like carrying messages and so on, his adventure with the fleet of Blefuscu leads him to become a nardac, a highly honored member of the kingdom.
    • Thanks to his new rank, everyone thinks that the rules of Gulliver's freedom are kind of beneath him now, and the Emperor never mentions Gulliver's supposed duties.
    • Even so, one night Gulliver does the Emperor a favor. He hears hundreds of people calling Burglum – fire! – and runs out to see what's wrong.
    • The Empress's rooms at the palace are on fire.
    • Luckily, Gulliver had had a lot of wine the night before and had not yet peed any of it, so he has plenty to use to put out the fire at the palace. Thanks to his quick thinking and huge bladder, Gulliver saves the palace from destruction.
    • Unfortunately, the Empress is not too pleased with Gulliver's method of putting out the fire – i.e., by peeing on it – so she's horribly offended and refuses to see that part of the palace repaired.

  • Part 1, Chapter 6

    "Of the inhabitants of Lilliput; their learning, laws, and customs; the manner of educating their children. The author's way of living in that country. His vindication of a great lady."

    • Gulliver gives us some more details of Lilliput: first, all of the animals, trees, and buildings are proportional to the six-inch Lilliputians. In other words, everything on the island is equally tiny.
    • They do not read left to right (like in English), right to left (like in Arabic), nor up and down (like in Chinese or Japanese). Instead, they write diagonally across the page.
    • The Lilliputians bury their dead head down. They think that the Earth is flat and that, at the end of the world, it will be flipped over and all of their people will be brought back to life. Once this happens, head down will actually be right side up.
    • If someone in Lilliput accuses someone else of crimes against the state, these charges are taken very seriously.
    • On the other hand, if it turns out that the accused person is innocent, then the accuser is executed and the accused person gets a money reward from the emperor.
    • In fact, lying and fraud are considered worse crimes than theft in Lilliput, and they nearly always result in execution for the criminal.
    • Gulliver points out that our criminal justice system is totally based on punishment – you commit a crime, you get thrown in jail or whatever – but in Lilliput, there is a balance of punishment and reward.
    • If you can prove that you have gone 73 months (just over 6 years) without doing anything wrong, you get a special title (snilpall) and a cash reward from the Emperor.
    • The Lilliputians also believe that it is morally better for people in office to make mistakes out of ignorance rather than out of deliberate wrongdoing. They prefer to appoint guys who are good but dumb over those who are smart but bad.
    • As a result, the Lilliputians generally don't appoint geniuses to the government. Instead, they actively try to keep smart, gifted people out of important offices, so that, if anything goes wrong, it will be because of stupidity rather than corruption.
    • Also, men who do not believe in God's will ("Divine Providence" (1.6.8)) cannot serve in public office.
    • Since the Emperor believes himself to be king thanks to the will of God, he doesn't want to employ anyone who does not believe in the source of the Emperor's power (God) to serve under him.
    • People in Lilliput can be executed for ingratitude, because they think it's a sign of a lack of respect for all of mankind.
    • The Lilliputians believe that men and women come together to have children out of natural instinct, so kids don't owe their parents anything. After all, their parents are having sex and conceiving kids because they want to, not because they have any kind of self-sacrifice in mind.
    • Indeed, the Lilliputians think that, generally, life sucks, and that being born is pretty miserable. So, parents who bring kids into the world are the last people who should be responsible for raising and educating them.
    • They have big public nurseries for both boys and girls. These nurseries teach kids the skills they will need for their particular place in life, as decided by their parents' social position and their own interests.
    • Nurseries for boys of high social standing are staffed by solemn professors who teach the kids to take care of themselves. They are never allowed to hang out in groups without a professor present, and they are only allowed to see their parents for an hour twice a year. They stay in these nurseries until they are 15 (which is equivalent to 21 in our years).
    • Sons of middle and working class families get the same treatment, but they leave their nurseries younger. At 11 years of age, they become apprentices to learn the trades they'll practice as adults.
    • Girls receive about the same education as boys, only with less active physical exercise and more learning about how to keep house. At 12, they become eligible for marriage.
    • Poorer girls also receive instruction in how to do jobs appropriate for women (Swift doesn't spell out what he means). They leave the nursery at 7 to become apprentices.
    • Parents have to pay an allowance for the support of their children by the state.
    • The children of farmers and laborers stay at home, since they don't have to learn a trade and are therefore not of much interest to the Empire.
    • Gulliver lives in Lilliput for 9 months and 13 days.
    • During this time, he makes his own table and chair.
    • 200 seamstresses sew him a shirt out of tiny squares of fabric and 300 cooks prepare him 2 dishes apiece every day.
    • The Emperor invites himself over to Gulliver's home (remember, that giant former temple just outside the city gates) for dinner, along with his wife, children, and Flimnap the treasurer.
    • Gulliver notices that Flimnap keeps looking at him with a frown on his face.
    • Flimnap (like Skyresh Bolgolam) is a "secret enemy" (1.6.21) of Gulliver's.
    • Flimnap uses this visit to Gulliver's house to point out to the Emperor that Gulliver eats a huge amount, and that the Emperor's cash stores are starting to get low as a result.
    • One reason that Flimnap hates Gulliver is that there are rumors going around that Flimnap's wife is having an affair with Gulliver (which, not to get dirty-minded or anything, but how would that even work? She's six inches tall! Wait, let's pretend we didn't say that – it's probably best not to think about the logistics too much).
    • Anyway, so Gulliver protests a lot that there is absolutely no truth to this accusation.
    • Flimnap eventually makes up with his wife, but never forgives Gulliver.
    • Unfortunately, Flimnap has a lot of influence on the Emperor, and keeps persuading him that the kingdom needs to get rid of Gulliver.
  • Part 1, Chapter 7

    "The author, being informed of a design to accuse him of high-treason, makes his escape to Blefuscu. His reception there."

    • For 2 months before Gulliver leaves Lilliput, there has been a plot building against him.
    • The thing is, Gulliver has never had any personal experience of courts in his own country, but he has read about them and all their backbiting and infighting.
    • Still, Gulliver thought that the high morals of the Lilliputians would keep him safe from plots against him.
    • He was wrong.
    • Just as Gulliver is planning to visit Blefuscu, one of his friends at court comes by in the dead of night to warn him that several committees have been formed to decide what should happen to Gulliver.
    • Skyresh Bolgolam the admiral, Flimnap the treasurer, Limtoc the general, Lalcon the chamberlain, and Balmuff the chief justice have issued articles of impeachment for treason against Gulliver.
    • (By the way, the specific use of this term "Articles of Impeachment" is another historical reference. Once again, please allow us to direct you to the Lilliputian "Character Analysis" for more information.)
    • The lord who has come to warn Gulliver has also brought a copy of the articles of impeachment against Gulliver, as follows:
    • Article 1: According to a degree by an earlier Emperor, it is treason to pee within the royal palace. When Gulliver put out the fire in the Empress's rooms using his urine, he broke this law.
    • Article 2: When the Emperor ordered Gulliver to destroy the remainder of Blefuscu's boats, conquer its lands, and execute all of the Lilliputian Big-Endian exiles and all those who would not convert to Little-Endianism, Gulliver refused.
    • Article 3: When ambassadors arrived from Blefuscu, Gulliver was nice to them, even though Lilliput is at war with Blefuscu.
    • Article 4: Gulliver is planning to go to Blefuscu, even though the Emperor has only given verbal (and not, we assume, written) permission.
    • Gulliver's enemies at court want him to be put to death in various miserable ways, but the Emperor feels bad about just killing Gulliver like that.
    • The Emperor asks Gulliver's friend Redresal, the principal secretary, his opinion.
    • Redresal tells the Emperor that, yes, maybe Gulliver has committed grave crimes, but the Emperor could still be merciful. Instead of killing Gulliver, why doesn't the Emperor just order Gulliver's eyes put out? That way, Gulliver would still be able to help the Emperor with his great strength.
    • The whole council is outraged at this suggestion, because Gulliver's strength is exactly the problem: Bolgolam warns that Gulliver might flood the whole country with his urine or carry the Blefuscudian fleet back to Blefuscu if he wanted to.
    • Flimnap the treasurer tells the Emperor that Gulliver has to die because the cost of feeding him will bankrupt Lilliput.
    • The Emperor doesn't want to kill Gulliver, but he also thinks that just blinding Gulliver isn't enough. So Redresal suggests that they stop feeding Gulliver. That way, they'd save money. What's more, Gulliver's corpse would be relatively skinny, making it easier to get rid of.
    • Everyone agrees on this compromise: they plan to starve him and to blind him.
    • The plan is that, in three days, Redresal will come to Gulliver with the Articles of Impeachment.
    • The only punishment the Lilliputians are actually going to reveal to Gulliver is the loss of his eyes; the starvation part, they don't plan to tell him about directly.
    • The lord who is telling Gulliver all of this finishes his story and heads out in secrecy, under cover of night.
    • Gulliver can't exactly see the mercy in this sentence: to be blinded and then starved seems plenty bad to him.
    • Gulliver considers standing trial in the hopes of getting some kind of reduced sentence, but, with so many powerful enemies, he figures that won't work.
    • Gulliver also thinks about laying siege to the capital city by throwing stones at it, but he rejects that idea because he took an oath to the Emperor to be loyal.
    • Finally, Gulliver decides to run away. He walks across the channel to Blefuscu, where the Blefuscudian Emperor has been expecting him.
    • The Blefuscudian Emperor comes to meet Gulliver, and Gulliver thanks him for his hospitality.
    • Gulliver does not tell the Emperor of Blefuscu that he has fallen out of favor in Lilliput.
  • Part 1, Chapter 8

    "The author, by a lucky accident, finds means to leave Blefuscu; and, after some difficulties, returns safe to his native country."

    • Three days after arriving in Blefuscu, Gulliver spots a real boat overturned in the shallows off the coast of the island. Gulliver assumes that a storm has pulled it free from the ship he arrived on, the Antelope.
    • He gets 2,000 Blefuscudians to help him turn the boat right side up. It looks undamaged.
    • Gulliver asks the Blefuscudian Emperor for permission to go back home to his own country, and the Emperor agrees.
    • Gulliver wonders why the Lilliputian Emperor hasn't sent for news of him from the Blefuscudian Emperor.
    • Later, the Blefuscudian Emperor tells Gulliver that the Lilliputian Emperor has sent a secret message to Blefuscu demanding the return of Gulliver in two hours, bound, so that he can be punished as a traitor.
    • The Blefuscudian Emperor replies that he can't do that to Gulliver because Gulliver has done Blefuscu a favor by making peace between Lilliput and Blefuscu.
    • But, the Blefuscudian Emperor adds, it's all okay: Gulliver has found a boat and is going to sail away on his own steam, which will rid both Lilliput and Blefuscu of the burden of his presence.
    • The Blefuscudian Emperor then offers Gulliver his protection in exchange for Gulliver's service. Gulliver thanks him, but insists on going home, which is actually a great relief to the Emperor of Blefuscu.
    • After about a month, Gulliver has stocked his boat with provisions and livestock (although he's not allowed to bring any Blefuscudians along, which he had wanted to do).
    • He sets out for Van Diemen's Land (modern-day Tasmania, in Australia) on September 24, 1701.
    • Two days later, Gulliver meets up by accident with a ship sailing back to England from Japan.
    • On the ship, there happens to be an old friend of Gulliver's, Peter Williams, who tells the captain (Mr. John Biddell) that Gulliver is a good guy. On this recommendation, Biddell lets Gulliver sail back to England with them.
    • They arrive back home and Gulliver makes some cash showing his tiny cattle to a paying audience.
    • He only stays back in England for two months before he gets the urge to travel again. He leaves behind his wife, son, and daughter, and boards the Adventure bound for Surat, India.
  • Part 2, Chapter 1

    "A great storm described; the long boat sent to fetch water; the author goes with it to discover the country. He is left on shore, is seized by one of the natives, and carried to a farmer's house. His reception, with several accidents that happened there. A description of the inhabitants."

    • Gulliver heads out to sea again on June 20, 1702. His ship is called the Adventure, with Captain John Nicholas.
    • About a year passes as they jump around the world, but finally (as you might expect) the Adventure hits a storm that leaves them totally confused about where they are.
    • On June 17, 1703, the sailors of the Adventure spot land and row ashore with Gulliver.
    • The landing party spots a monster in the distance, a giant man about 60 feet high. All the sailors dash to their rowboat and start rowing hell for leather back to the Adventure – accidentally leaving our friend Gulliver behind on the island (which, by the way, is the island of Brobdingnag).
    • Gulliver finds a road through a field of corn that stands at least 40 feet high. As he walks along, he finds that the corn is being harvested by guys carrying extremely large scythes.
    • Gulliver runs through the corn, but he's having trouble making any progress because everything is so huge that he can't make his way past the leaves and branches of the corn plants.
    • Finally, Gulliver gives up and lies down in the furrows between the corn rows, thinking of his wife and children. He thinks he's going to be eaten by these giants.
    • Still, when one of the reapers comes close to Gulliver, he realizes that the guy might step on him and squash him by accident, so Gulliver screams as loud as he can.
    • The reaper sees him and picks him up. Gulliver clasps his hands in a praying gesture, which the guy seems to understand.
    • The giant puts Gulliver in his jacket pocket and goes to his employer, a farmer.
    • The farmer (whom Gulliver starts to call his Master) examines Gulliver closely, and realizes that he seems to be a thinking creature and not just an animal.
    • They try to speak to each other, but neither can follow the other's language.
    • Gulliver's new master takes Gulliver home and shows him to his wife, who screams as though Gulliver is a mouse or a snake or something. Soon she gets used to him, though, and comes to like him.
    • Gulliver's master has a kid around 10 years old.
    • Gulliver worries that the kid is going to tear him apart, since kids can be rough with animals. So, he sucks up to the boy by kissing his hands.
    • Gulliver's mistress (his new master's wife) has a cat, but Gulliver figures that, if he shows it no fear, the cat will not attack him. This proves to be true: it totally ignores him.
    • After dinner, a nurse brings in the mistress's baby. She gives Gulliver to the baby as a plaything and the child almost bites Gulliver's head off. It's only through Gulliver's quick thinking that he gets the child to drop him.
    • The child starts to wail and, to quiet him, Gulliver's mistress starts to breast feed the child.
    • Gulliver goes into a pretty lengthy description of how revolting her breasts look at this size – 6 feet tall and 16 feet around, with a nipple as big as his breast.
    • Gulliver decides that even the loveliest women only look good because we don't see them magnified – if you look too close, everyone's skin looks rough.
    • After all this excitement, Gulliver's mistress puts Gulliver to bed on her handkerchief.
    • After two hours, Gulliver wakes up.
    • He sees two rats crawling towards him up the curtains and freaks out – they're both as big as a large dog to Gulliver.
    • Gulliver gets a lucky shot and manages to kill one with his sword; the second rat runs away in fear.
    • The mistress comes in and sees Gulliver covered with blood and the dead rat.
    • She picks Gulliver up and washes him off.
    • Finally, he manages to indicate to her that he needs to take care of a call of nature, so she takes him out into the garden to do his business.
    • Gulliver apologizes to the reader for dwelling on his peeing habits, but he claims that they will be helpful to the philosopher seeking to apply lessons from his experience to public and private life. (We're pretty sure this is a joke.)
  • Part 2, Chapter 2

    "A description of the farmer's daughter. The author carried to a market-town, and then to the metropolis. The particulars of his journey."

    • Gulliver's mistress has a 9-year old daughter who sews well and is generally really smart. She makes Gulliver some clothes and also starts teaching him the Brobdingnagian language.
    • Gulliver calls this girl Glumdalclitch, his little nurse, and she names him Grildrig.
    • Rumors are spreading through the whole area that the farmer, Gulliver's master, has found a strange little creature that seems to imitate human beings perfectly.
    • One of the master's neighbors comes by and suggests that he would make a huge profit by showing Gulliver at the local market for a fee.
    • The next market day, Gulliver's master follows this guy's advice and starts advertising for people to come and see his tiny human.
    • Gulliver does tricks and repeats what phrases he knows of the Brobdingnagian language for the entertainment of local audiences.
    • After a long day of these performances, Gulliver's master promises to bring him back the next market day.
    • Gulliver is so profitable that his master decides to take him on a tour of the cities of the kingdom.
    • Gulliver travels under the care of Glumdalclitch. She knows how much it tires Gulliver to be displayed at markets like this, so Glumdalclitch often complains to her father of her own exhaustion to get him to travel slowly.
    • After ten weeks of travel and eighteen different large towns, Gulliver's master, Glumdalclitch, and Gulliver himself all arrive at the central city, Lorbrulgrud.
    • Gulliver's master rents a large room and sets up a stage for Gulliver's performances.

  • Part 2, Chapter 3

    "The author sent for to court. The queen buys him of his master the farmer, and presents him to the king. He disputes with his majesty's great scholars. An apartment at court provided for the author. He is in high favour with the queen. He stands up for the honour of his own country. His quarrels with the queen's dwarf."

    • All of this performing is having a terrible effect on Gulliver's health, and his master can see that he's getting sick.
    • Gulliver's master resolves to make as much money as he can off Gulliver before Gulliver dies.
    • One day, the Queen of Brobdingnag arrives at his apartment and offers to buy Gulliver for a huge sum of gold.
    • Gulliver agrees with the Queen's wishes as long as he can ask one tiny favor: he wants the Queen to employ Glumdalclitch as Gulliver's nurse.
    • The Queen agrees to his master's price and Gulliver's request, and his master leaves Gulliver to the Queen.
    • The Queen notices how cold Gulliver's farewell to his (now former) master is, and asks for an explanation.
    • Gulliver tells her that his former master exploited him, and suggests that, under Her Majesty's august protection, he might still be able to recover his former strength after all of this bad treatment.
    • The Queen brings Gulliver to the King of Brobdingnag and asks Gulliver to explain again how his former master treated him.
    • The King of Brobdingnag thinks that Gulliver is a mechanical toy, and that he is parroting a story to the royal couple that is not true.
    • He orders three scholars to come by his court and examine Gulliver to see what they can make of him.
    • The scholars decide that Gulliver is a lusus naturaea freak of nature.
    • Gulliver interrupts to tell them that he comes from a country with millions of people like him and of his size.
    • The scholars dismiss him, but the Brobdingagian King slowly starts to think that Gulliver is telling the truth.
    • The King tells the Queen to keep watching over Gulliver, which she does with great pleasure – she really likes him.
    • The Queen outfits Gulliver with his own tiny pieces of furniture and itsy-bitsy dishes and silverware, so that he can sleep and eat comfortably.
    • Gulliver comes to dine with the royal family every Wednesday, where he gives descriptions of European manners, customs, religion, and philosophy to the Brobdingnagian King.
    • The Brobdingnagian King laughs as he asks Gulliver if he is a Whig or a Tory?
    • (The Whigs and the Tories were Britain's eighteenth-century equivalent of the Democrats and the Republicans. The Whigs supported restrictions on royal power, while the Tories wanted the conservation of the king's authority. Check out this article for more on these two political parties. Also, see our "Character Analysis" of the Lilliputians for a specific look at Swift, the Whigs, and the Tories).
    • Gulliver gets all offended because the Brobdingnagian King uses Gulliver's account of English customs as proof of human vanity: we all think our own politics and religion are so important, but from a wider perspective, they really aren't.
    • But with time, Gulliver starts to see himself more and more from the Brobdingnagian perspective: tiny and funny-looking.
    • What does still really tick Gulliver off is that there is a small person (only 30 feet tall!) in the Queen's service who totally rags on Gulliver because he has finally found someone smaller than he is. This person plays a number of practical jokes on Gulliver.
    • The Queen is surprised at Gulliver's fearfulness, and asks if all the people of his home country are such cowards?
    • Gulliver really can't help his fears: even the Brobdingnagian insects are as large as fat birds compared to him.
  • Part 2, Chapter 4

    "The country described. A proposal for correcting modern maps. The king's palace; and some account of the metropolis. The author's way of travelling. The chief temple described."

    • The island is 6,000 miles long and between 3,000 and 5,000 miles wide. It's a whole continent right smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, between California and Japan.
    • The kingdom of Brobdingnag sits at the southern end of the island, surrounded on three sides by ocean and on one side by impassable mountains.
    • The country has 51 cities, the largest of which is Lorbrulgrud.
    • The king's palace in Lorbrulgrud is a mass of buildings about 7 miles around.
    • Glumdalclitch takes Gulliver on frequent outings into the city, accompanied by her governess (a woman who acts as both caretaker and private tutor for young kids).
    • When Gulliver goes on these outings, he is placed in a special box for travel, with windows on three sides to allow him to look out.
    • Whenever they travel through the city, passersby always stop to look at Gulliver – he has become very famous.
    • Gulliver and Glumdalclitch go out to see the primary temple of the city, which is both beautiful and 3,000 feet in height – about three-fifths of a mile.
    • (To give you a sense of scale, this makes the steeple of this temple almost three times the height of the Empire State Building.)
    • Believe it or not, Gulliver is disappointed – he expected the temple to be taller.
    • Gulliver tells us that the king's kitchen is also amazing: it's 600 feet high (just under half the height of the Empire State Building).
    • Gulliver is also most impressed by the sight of the Brobdingnagian King's military guard on parade, in detachments of 500. The horses are, of course, enormous – around 60 feet high.
  • Part 2, Chapter 5

    "Several adventures that happened to the author. The execution of a criminal. The author shows his skills in navigation."

    • Gulliver's life in Brobdingnag is pretty happy except that his tiny size makes him so vulnerable to danger.
      1. When Gulliver is walking under an apple tree, the Queen's dwarf shakes the tree, causing about 12 apples to drop. These apples almost brain Gulliver.
      2. Gulliver is sitting on a plot of grass when a sudden hail shower nearly crushes him to death with balls of ice about 1,800 times the size of European hail.
      3. The worst danger of all comes when Glumdalclitch leaves Gulliver in the palace gardens while she is talking to her governess. A small white dog gets loose in the garden and carries Gulliver (fortunately, very carefully) to the feet of her master, the head gardener. The gardener returns Gulliver to Glumdalclitch.
    • Glumdalclitch gets really terrified for Gulliver's safety after this, and decides not to let him out of her sight.
    • Gulliver is kind of bummed, because he likes being able to go on walks by himself – even though he is a bit accident prone.
    • On these walks alone, Gulliver observes that even the birds of Brobdingnag are not afraid of him; they come very close to him looking for worms.
    • He catches one but it pecks him almost to death – he's saved at the last minute by a servant, who kills the bird.
    • (A historical side note: here, Gulliver starts to tell us about Glumdalclitch and the Queen's maids of honor. The meaning of the phrase "maid of honor" has definitely changed over time; after all, the Queen is not about to get married. In eighteenth century England, maids of honor were junior attendants to the Queen – like fancy servants, only of higher rank than actual servants.)
    • These maids of honor like to have Gulliver come and play with them.
    • They frequently press his whole, tiny body against their bosoms – where Gulliver has a chance to observe that they smell really bad to him, because there's just so much of them.
    • The worst thing about being near these maids of honor is that none of them think of Gulliver as a real human being, so they regularly take off their clothes and even pee in front of him.
    • He is disgusted by their huge moles, big pores, hairy skins – he can see all of their imperfections totally magnified, and it is nasty.
    • Gulliver witnesses an execution in Brobdingnag: a criminal is beheaded, and the fountain of blood is huge.
    • The Queen knows that Gulliver is familiar with boats, so she has both a boat and a trough of water three hundred feet long made for him. He often goes to this trough to row or sail, to the amusement of the Queen and her ladies.
    • Once, one of the servants who is supposed to fill Gulliver's trough with water accidentally lets a frog loose. The frog nearly tips over Gulliver's boat.
    • But the worst danger Gulliver finds in Brobdingnag is from a monkey.
    • Glumdalclitch leaves Gulliver in her closet while she's out on some business, but the day is warm and the closet window is open.
    • This monkey swings in from outside and finds Gulliver.
    • It mistakes Gulliver for a baby monkey, grabs him, carries him out of Glumdalclitch's rooms, climbs to a roof nearby, and starts stuffing Gulliver with treats from a bag the monkey is carrying.
    • A small crowd gathers to try and get the monkey to free Gulliver, but they're also laughing hysterically at the sight of Gulliver being force-fed by his adoptive monkey parent.
    • Finally, the monkey drops Gulliver and runs away.
    • Glumdalclitch nurses him back to health.
    • Gulliver goes to visit the King to thank him for his kind thoughts during Gulliver's recovery.
    • The King asks Gulliver how he felt while being held by the monkey.
    • Gulliver claims that, if he hadn't been so frightened at seeing the monkey, he would have scared the beast away with his sword as soon as he saw it.
    • All of the King's courtiers start laughing at how ridiculous Gulliver is: he could never have stabbed that monkey with his sword, because he's way too cowardly.
    • In fact, Gulliver is always appearing like an idiot in front of the court.
    • He has an adventure with a cow pat that Glumdalclitch immediately tells the Queen to make her laugh.
  • Part 2, Chapter 6

    "Several contrivances of the author to please the king and queen. He shows his skill in music. The king inquires into the state of England, which the author relates to him. The king's observations thereon."

    • Once or twice a week, Gulliver attends the King's levee, a kind of reception held every morning when a King gets out of bed.
    • He collects the hairs that drop from the King's twice-weekly shave to make himself a comb.
    • Gulliver also uses some of the Queen's hair from her brush to make a set of chairs (like cane chairs) that the Queen keeps as curiosities.
    • Glumdalclitch plays the spinet, which is like a miniature piano – miniature to Glumdalclitch, but huge to Gulliver.
    • Gulliver knows that the King is fond of music, so he makes himself some clubs to use to shove the keys of the instrument down, but it's such hard work that he can't play properly.
    • The Brobdingnagian King asks Gulliver to give him an exact account of English government, because the King wants to know if there is anything worth imitating there.
    • Gulliver starts off by explaining that his home is an empire uniting England, Ireland, Scotland, and plantations in America under one king.
    • This kingdom is governed by a Parliament made up of two Houses (much as the American Congress includes both the Senate and the House of Representatives). (Check out this link for more on the history of the English Parliament.)
    • The first is the House of Peers, now called the House of Lords, an assembly of members of the landed aristocracy.
    • The second house is the House of Commons, elected freely by the people.
    • Gulliver adds some information about England's law courts, treasury, armed forces, religion, and recent history.
    • After listening to all that Gulliver has to say, the Brobdingnagian King asks him several tough questions, including: how lords are educated to suit them for government? How do lords make laws without taking into account personal interest or greed? How does the government make sure that its elected officials are in it for the good of the state and not for their own glory or profit?
    • The King goes on to ask about the court system: does religion or politics ever factor into legal decisions? How can judges presume to interpret laws that they don't make?
    • As for taxes, the King finds it very strange that a state can run out of money and borrow money like a private person.
    • And how about differences in political and religious feeling – why should these private opinions be a matter of public knowledge or concern at all?
    • Furthermore, what's all this about gambling? Doesn't this give people a method of making (or losing) lots of money with no work of their own?
    • As for Gulliver's accounts of recent English history, it all just sounds like a pile of murders, massacres, and revolutions to the King of Brobdingnag.
    • In fact, even though Gulliver has tried really hard to convince the King of the greatness of his home country, the King concludes that England is governed by a pack of corrupt, unqualified, greedy thieves.
    • The King of Brobdingnag believes that most Englishmen must be "the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth" (2.6.18) – in other words, a disgusting, evil bunch of little creeps.
  • Part 2, Chapter 7

    "The author's love of his country. He makes a proposal of much advantage to the king, which is rejected. The king's great ignorance in politics. The learning of that country very imperfect and confined. The laws, and military affairs, and parties in the state."

    • Gulliver sits and listens to the King's intense criticism of England. He keeps quiet (he says) because it would be ungrateful of him to contradict the King, his benefactor.
    • He also reassures us that we should forgive the Brobdingnagian King for his criticism of England – how could the King know better, when his own country is so remote from all other nations of the world?
    • To prove how ignorant and foolish the King is, Gulliver tells us, the readers, that he offered to show the King how to make gunpowder to subdue his enemies.
    • The Brobdingnagian King listens to Gulliver's description of guns and is totally horrified. He makes Gulliver promise never even to mention these weapons to him again.
    • Gulliver exclaims to the reader about the foolishness of the Brobdingnagian King, who has let this great opportunity for power slip through his fingers.
    • Gulliver also criticizes Brobdingnagian education, which focuses on practical applications of knowledge rather than on abstract mysteries.
    • No law in Brobdingnag can be longer than 20 words.
    • They also don't have very many books.
    • He comments on the clarity of their writing style: they never use too many words, and everything appears in simple language.
    • The King's army is well-disciplined because all of its soldiers are farmers and tradesmen who serve under their own landlords and chief citizens.
    • Gulliver wonders why the King bothers to have armies at all if there are no other countries nearby.
    • It turns out that Brobdingnag has had a number of civil wars between nobles, who want power, the people, who want freedom, and the king, who wants total authority.
    • In the aftermath of these civil wars, all three of these – the nobles, the people, and the king – have agreed that they need a militia to keep the peace.
  • Part 2, Chapter 8

    "The king and queen make a progress to the frontiers. The author attends them. The manner in which he leaves the country very particularly related. He returns to England."

    • Gulliver really wants to go home.
    • He has now spent two years in Brobdingnag, and though his life has been comfortable, he wants to return to a place where he doesn't have to worry about being stomped to death by a puppy.
    • He and Glumdalclitch are going on a tour of the south coast of the kingdom with the Brobdingnagian King and Queen.
    • Both Gulliver and Glumdalclitch have colds, but Gulliver's is mild.
    • He manages to persuade Glumdalclitch to let him go down to the beach with a servant.
    • This servant carries Gulliver's traveling box down to the beach. Once they get to the beach, Gulliver decides to take a nap, so he shuts the entrance to his box and climbs into his hammock.
    • He wakes up when he feels a sudden jolt.
    • It would seem that the servant left Gulliver's box on the beach while going off for whatever reason, and that the box has now been snagged by an eagle.
    • The eagle flies high and then drops Gulliver's box; Gulliver feels by the bobbing of his box that he is at sea.
    • Gulliver feels really bad for Glumdalclitch, who is doubtless going to be blamed for his loss by the Queen.
    • He notices that water is slowly leaking into his box, so he's getting pretty worried for himself, too.
    • He hears something scraping at the two staples attached to the side of his box that has no windows, and wonders what it is.
    • Gulliver calls out, and a voice answers that his box has been lashed to the side of a ship.
    • A sailor saws a hole in the side of his box and Gulliver emerges, very weak.
    • Gulliver has been so long in Brobdingnag that he has lost perspective on regular humans – he's surprised to be surrounded by such small people, even though they are his own height.
    • The sailors salvage some of the contents of Gulliver's box.
    • The captain of the ship, Thomas Wilcox, asks Gulliver to tell him where he has been.
    • The captain thinks that Gulliver is (a) crazy, and/or (b) a convict who has been sent to sea in a giant box as punishment.
    • To prove the truth of his story, Gulliver shows the captain his comb, made from the beard stubble of the King of Brobdingnag, as well as his pants, which are made of mouse skin.
    • The captain agrees that Gulliver is telling the truth,
    • He asks Gulliver if the King or Queen of Brobdingnag were hard of hearing, because Gulliver keeps shouting. After all, Gulliver has spent the last two years yelling to make himself heard by Brobdingnagian giants.
    • The ship arrives back in England on June 3, 1706, 9 months after Gulliver leaves Brobdingnag.
    • He keeps acting as though he expects to see 60-foot people around him, so Gulliver's whole family thinks he has gone nuts.
    • Gulliver's wife tells him never again to go to sea, but there are two more parts left to Gulliver's Travels, so we think he's not going to listen to her.

  • Part 3, Chapter 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.
  • Part 3, Chapter 2

    "The humours and dispositions of the Laputians described. An account of their learning. Of the king and his court. The author's reception there. The inhabitants subject to fear and disquietudes. An account of the women."

    • The people surrounding Gulliver when he gets up to the island look totally bizarre: all of their heads lean either to the right or the left, one of their eyes points in and the other up, and they are all dressed in clothes decorated with stars, moons, and musical instruments.
    • Gulliver sees a lot of servants standing around holding these things he calls flappers, little rattles on the end of a long stick.
    • The people of Laputa are so caught up in their own thoughts that they need someone else to remind them to speak or listen.
    • So whenever a group of them gets together, the job of their servants is to touch the mouth of the person who should be speaking and the ears of those who should be listening.
    • And when they go walking, their servants have to tap their eyes with the flapper to be sure that they watch where they're going.
    • The Laputians bring Gulliver to the King.
    • The King's room is full of mathematical instruments and globes, and he is so deep in thought that it takes him an hour to become conscious enough of his surroundings to notice Gulliver.
    • The King provides Gulliver with a tutor to teach him their language; most of the words he learns are for different signs of the zodiac, mathematical figures – really abstract stuff, in other words.
    • What helps Gulliver to learn Laputian language is his knowledge of math and music, which dominate Laputian culture.
    • At the same time, the Laputians don't seem able to make anything right: Gulliver's suit doesn't fit and all of their houses have weird angles because no one knows how to apply their equations to real life.
    • Gulliver also discovers that Laputa controls the continent under it, Balnibarbi, and that there are frequent visitors and deliveries from sea level up to Laputa by means of rope. In fact, Laputa is the King's personal home, but Balnibarbi is where the capital city sits.
    • What surprises Gulliver is that, even though all the Laputians know only math and music, they still like to talk endlessly about politics – proof, to Gulliver, that all humans most enjoy discussing what they know least.
    • He also finds it weird that the Laputians live in such constant fear of the end of the world that they can hardly sleep at night or enjoy life. Their science has actually become a terror to them.
    • The women of Laputa despise their husbands and love strangers.
    • In fact, whenever guys come up to the island from the lands below, the women have affairs with them pretty freely. Their husbands never notice because they are so busy with science.
    • Gulliver becomes pretty fluent in Laputian after a month.
    • The Laputian King doesn't bother asking him about the countries he has seen; all of his questions revolve around math.

  • Part 3, Chapter 3

    "A phenomenon solved by modern philosophy and astronomy. The Laputians' great improvements in the latter. The king's method of suppressing insurrections."

    • Gulliver then launches into a long description of how exactly Laputa functions: first of all, the island has a crater in the center of it that collects rain water, which is why rain doesn't just fall off it.
    • At the center of the island is a deep canyon with a giant lodestone, a naturally occurring magnet, in the middle of it.
    • The King uses this lodestone to raise and drop the island and to keep it moving in relation to the Earth's own magnetic poles.
    • The movement of Laputa has limits: it can't go beyond the king's own dominions, in other words, the islands that he controls at sea level. It also can't rise higher than four miles above the Earth.
    • It is the job of the King's astronomers to do the actual manipulation of the lodestone at his orders.
    • They also spend a lot of time discovering things about the solar system and the stars.
    • The only thing that limits the King's control of the Earth below him is that all of his cabinet members have estates on the islands below Laputa, so they find the idea of dominating the islands under them to be pretty risky for their own families.
    • At the same time, the King still has two methods for keeping his authority over the lower islands without absolutely enslaving them:
    • (1) if any of them refuse to pay tribute, he can make his island float directly overhead, blocking their sunlight and rain, until they give in;
    • and (2) if they continue to refuse to obey him, the King can drop his island directly on their heads.
    • The King has rarely ordered this kind of total destruction because (a) his ministers have their homes down below, and (b) his own people would revolt against him.
    • Well, and there's one more reason why the King doesn't do this: secretly, he worries that the power of his magnet might not be strong enough to lift the island again if it comes crashing to earth.
    • Laputa also has a law that neither the King nor his two eldest sons, nor the queen (while she can still have children) are allowed to leave the island.

  • Part 3, Chapter 4

    "The author leaves Laputa; is conveyed to Balnibarbi; arrives at the metropolis. A description of the metropolis, and the country adjoining. The author hospitably received by a great lord. His conversation with that lord."

    • Gulliver feels disrespected, because no one wants to talk about anything but math or music, and he can't compete with the Laputians in either field.
    • Also, he has become totally sick of the Laputians themselves and their dull conversation.
    • There is a lord in Laputa who has done many great things for the state, but he gets no respect, because he has no ear for music and no talent for math.
    • He and Gulliver bond, because they can talk sensibly to each other.
    • Gulliver asks this lord (Lord Munodi) to request to the King that Gulliver be let down in Lagado, the capital city.
    • The King agrees, and sends him down to the continent of Balnibarbi with Lord Munodi and some money.
    • Gulliver is relieved to be on firm ground again.
    • He is disappointed at the sight of Lagado, though: all of the people working there look hungry and unhappy.
    • Gulliver expresses his opinions of the poverty of Lagado to Lord Munodi, who suggests that they keep this conversation for a later time, when they are safely at Lord Munodi's own estates.
    • Lord Munodi's estates are beautiful, well-cultivated, and seem prosperous – totally the opposite of the other Balnibarbi lands.
    • Lord Munodi tells Gulliver that his estates (which look so great to Gulliver) bring frequent criticisms from other Laputians for mismanagement – he has left his orchards, fields, and home in the old model of his forefathers, while the rest of Balnibarbi has gone over to new ideas of farming.
    • The problem is, about 40 years before, some people from Balnibarbi went up to Laputa and came back filled with ideas for reform of everything – arts, science, all of it.
    • These guys found an academy in Lagado, filled with professors who promise all kinds of miracles – auto-ripening fruit, reduction of working hours, etc., etc.
    • Their plans have become total fads in all of the cities in the kingdom, but the problem is – all their calculations don't actually work.
    • So, these impractical men (Swift calls them "Projectors" (3.4.15)) have completely ruined the buildings and farmland of Balnibarbi with their farfetched ideas and equations.
    • Lord Munodi promises to get Gulliver an invitation to Lagado's Royal Academy if he wants it, which Gulliver does.
  • Part 3, Chapter 5

    "The author permitted to see the grand academy of Lagado. The academy largely described. The arts wherein the professors employ themselves."

    • Gulliver spends many days at the Royal Academy in Lagado, where there are at least 500 Projectors (impractical students of science) hanging out and thinking.
    • Their projects include:
      1. To take sunbeams out of cucumbers;
      2. To turn human poo back into food (ugh);
      3. To melt ice into gunpowder;
      4. To build houses from the roof down;
      5. To paint without sight, but according to the texture and smell of the colors;
      6. To use pigs to plough fields;
      7. To use spider webs to replace silk threads;
      8. To change the course of the moon and sun so that we can combine weathervanes and sundials.
    • Gulliver gets a bit sick, so he goes to a physician at the academy who is famous for treating gas. This doctor's treatment is really, really surprising: he wants to stick a bellows up the butt of his patient to physically draw wind out of his body.
    • After pumping the wind out, the physician fills his bellows with air from the outside, replaces the bellows in the anus of his patient, and fills the poor guy with air.
    • The idea is that the patient is then supposed to expel both the outside air and the bad air inside of him, thus curing him.
    • But Gulliver sees this doctor testing his bellows on a dog, and what actually happens is that the dog essentially dies of explosive diarrhea.
    • Gulliver's last visit in the experimental part of the Academy is to "the universal artist," a man who is supposed to be working to benefit mankind with lots of projects.
    • Gulliver sees the guy's 50 apprentices working busily.
    • Currently, the artist has two plans: (1) to plant fields with chaff (the shells of plant seeds), because he believes that's what causes seeds to grow (not true!).
    • And (2), he wants to breed a herd of naked sheep. Not exactly helpful.
    • Following this meeting, Gulliver heads over to the part of the Academy that's less practical, and deals with abstract sciences.
    • His first meeting is with a professor who has a giant square strung with wires, on which are written all the words of the Laputian language.
    • This giant square has handles on all sides for the professor's students to use to turn the frame.
    • By turning the frame, the professor's students shake up the words hanging inside the square.
    • Whenever three or four of the words together seem to make sense, the students write down these phrases.
    • Out of this random word frame, the professor hopes to create a complete set of all the world's arts and sciences. Ambitious!
    • Another set of professors is trying to think of how to avoid miscommunication between people. One person suggests cutting all long words down to one syllable and leaving out verbs.
    • Another has an even more amazing idea: stop speaking altogether, and just carry around the objects that will give your listeners an idea of what you mean.
    • (As Gulliver points out, this might mean you'll have to carry around a lot of stuff if your ideas are at all complex.)
    • At the math school at the Academy, Gulliver sees a professor trying to get his students literally to absorb the material he's teaching, by feeding them a cracker with equations written on it. It doesn't work, sadly.
  • Part 3, Chapter 6

    "A further account of the academy. The author proposes some improvements, which are honorably received."

    • Gulliver finds the political school less funny, because all the professors seem nuts. The political projectors want to come up with ways to reward merit and ability in public service – poppycock!
    • (Sorry, it's just that we've been reading so much Swift that we're getting pretty sarcastic ourselves.)
    • Anyway, Gulliver tells us that this kind of madness is so far-fetched that it goes past funny into sad.
    • But actually, some of the political projectors are less crazy and therefore amusing, Gulliver reassures: there's one guy who suggests that, if a political assembly is like a body, then it stands to reason that cures for the body might also cure problems in the assembly itself.
    • So, he offers that all senators should receive regular medical treatment to make sure that they don't fall into greed, corruption, or bribery.
    • The same guy also suggests various "cures" for the weak memories and poor decision-making of senators.
    • Possibly our favorite suggestion from this particular fellow is that, if political party division becomes too bad, we should take 100 guys from each political party and split their brains. In this way, each skull will now have half a conservative and half a liberal brain in it. Then they can literally argue it out among themselves.
    • To raise money, there's a proposal to tax everything bad in a man, as decided by his neighbors; a second fellow suggests that they tax everything good about a man, again, as assessed by his neighbors. The problem is, how can we be sure that jealous neighbors will admit the virtues of their friends?
    • To choose who will serve in high office, a professor proposes a raffle, which will keep hope alive among senators who might otherwise turn against the crown.
    • And another professor (this suggestion is also kind of awesome) advises that you can tell if a man is plotting against the government if you measure and analyze his poo. This professor uses his own poo as an example: it was kind of green when he wanted to kill the King, but totally different when he was only planning rebellion.
    • Gulliver offers to tell this professor about a land he's seen, "Tribnia" (a.k.a. Britain), which its residents call "Langden" (England).
    • Gulliver says that the plots in "Tribnia" are generally on the part of informers who want to raise their own reputations by making up stuff.
    • Usually, the accusers decide who to target in advance so they can raid the homes of the accused.
    • There, they steal all the letters belonging to the accused so they can find "proof" of treason by assigning special meanings and fake codes to the words of the accused.
    • The political professor thanks Gulliver for his information, and Gulliver starts thinking of going back to England.
  • Part 3, Chapter 7

    "The author leaves Lagado: arrives at Maldonada. No ship ready. He takes a short voyage to Glubbdubdrib. His reception by the governor."

    • Gulliver claims that Balnibarbi is situated in the Pacific, west of California, which has not yet been charted (much like Brobdingnag).
    • To the north of Lagado is the island of Luggnagg, which is not far southeast of Japan.
    • These two countries have trade relations, so Gulliver plans to go to Luggnagg, sail for Japan, and then head for Europe.
    • Gulliver has to wait for a month before a boat will arrive at the port city of Maldonada to take him to Luggnagg.
    • Since he has nothing to do for a month, a local guy suggests that he try visiting the small island of Glubbdubdrib, an island of sorcerers.
    • These sorcerers are very private and only marry among each other.
    • The Governor of Glubbdubdrib can raise the dead, but only for one day, and he can't call them back again until three months have gone by.
    • Gulliver goes to meet this Governor, who asks Gulliver about his adventures.
    • All of the servants in the Governor's household are ghosts.
    • After 10 days on Glubbdubdrib, Gulliver stops worrying about the ghosts so much, which leads the Governor to make him an offer: Gulliver can speak to any ghosts he chooses and as many as he wants.
    • The one thing he has to promise is that he will only ask them questions about their own time.
    • Gulliver agrees, and gets to speak to:
      1. Alexander the Great (who died from drinking too much);
      2. Hannibal (who is supposed to have broken a rock blocking him from crossing the Alps using vinegar, but who tells Gulliver that really, he had no vinegar in his camp (source: Robert Greenberg, Editor, Gulliver's Travels: An Annotated Text With Critical Essays. New York: Norton, 1961, 167).);
      3. Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great in the midst of their greatest battles;
      4. Brutus, Julius Caesar's assassin, whom Gulliver admires for his bravery and commitment to the end of dictatorship.
    • Gulliver doesn't want to bore the reader with a complete list of who he spoke to, but most of his conversations were with great men of history who killed tyrants and fought for liberty.

  • Part 3, Chapter 8

    "A further account of Glubbdubdrib. Ancient and modern history corrected"

    • Gulliver sets aside a day to talk to learned men. He gets to meet Homer and Aristotle, both of whom are really smart and neither of whom know any of the guys who have commented on their works.
    • (By the way, for more on who all of these people are, please see our "Character Analysis" of the Ancients.)
    • Gulliver also talks to a number of thinkers dealing with the nature of the universe, including René Descartes and Pierre Gassendi.
    • These men all agree that each new age of humanity comes up with a new system to explain nature, but they never last long.
    • Gulliver also meets most of the Emperors of Rome.
    • Then he moves on to the more recently deceased.
    • This gets a little depressing: he asks to see the family lines of the royal houses of Europe, and finds a lot of commoners mixed in there: a barber, an abbot, two fiddlers – those queens have been getting busy, Swift is saying.
    • He makes similar discoveries with the lines of the aristocracy, in which he sees plenty of evidence of family degeneration into stupidity and lying.
    • Speaking to the ghosts of the recent past shows Gulliver exactly how much lying goes around today, and how much history has been airbrushed to look better (or worse) than it really is.
    • Gulliver wants to find out how people have gotten their official and court positions and finds that it's through horrible means: bribery, lying, sucking up, oppression, prostitution of wives and daughters, treason, poisoning, and incest all come up.
    • Gulliver discovers that the only really great services done to the state have been by people who history calls traitors and criminals.
    • In fact, he also realizes that this kind of hypocrisy was present even in Rome, once the Empire started to grow rich and luxurious.
    • The introduction of similar wealth to England has made English people progressively, visibly less healthy, complains Gulliver.
    • Total corruption has caused England to grow repulsive over the previous 100 years.
  • Part 3, Chapter 9

    "The author returns to Maldonada. Sails to the kingdom of Luggnagg. The author confined. He is sent for to court. The manner of his admittance. The king's great lenity to his subjects."

    • Gulliver finally leaves Glubbdubdrib and heads for Luggnagg. He arrives in Luggnagg on April 21, 1708.
    • Gulliver starts speaking to a customs officer in Luggnagg, where he pretends to be Dutch.
    • Since Gulliver's eventual destination is Japan, and the Japanese will only allow Dutch traders access to their harbors, he figures this is a good plan.
    • (By the way, kudos to Swift for being absolutely correct on this historical point – after 1637, Japan refused to allow non-Dutch European traders onto its islands until the 1850s.)
    • Gulliver gets held up in Luggnagg by red tape, so he hires an interpreter who speaks both Luggnagg and Balnibarbi and answers frequent questions about his travels and the countries he has seen.
    • Eventually, Gulliver is granted an audience with the King of Luggnagg.
    • The King orders Gulliver to follow the local custom of crawling to the King's feet and licking the dust in front of his footstool. Seriously.
    • If the King wants one of his court dead, he has poison sprinkled on the floor in front of him where they have to eat it.
    • Gulliver exchanges ritual greetings with the King and then speaks to him through his interpreter.
    • Apparently, the King really likes Gulliver: he gives him some money and lets him stay at the palace.
    • Gulliver lives in Luggnagg for three months, but decides that, overall, it will be safer to go home to his wife and kids.
  • Part 3, Chapter 10

    "The Luggnaggians commended. A particular description of the Struldbrugs, with many conversations between the author and some eminent persons upon that subject."

    • Gulliver finds the Luggnaggians pretty nice overall.
    • One day, he's chatting with some locals, and one of them asks him if he has seen "any of their struldbrugs, or immortals" (3.10.2).
    • Every now and again, a child will be born with a mark on its forehead, over its left eyebrow, which shows that it will never die. These are the struldbrugs.
    • Gulliver is really excited to find a country where every child has a chance of being born immortal.
    • The person Gulliver is speaking to asks Gulliver what he would do, if he had been born immortal.
    • Gulliver jumps in: he would make lots of money, invest it and save it, become the wealthiest man in the kingdom, learn everything there is to know about everything, and write down all the events and fashions that he sees to provide future knowledge for the nation.
    • Gulliver would also take care to instruct young people, but most of his friends would be fellow immortals, since what would be the point of hanging out with lots of people without the benefit of his experience?
    • Gulliver goes on to exclaim about all the discoveries he and his struldbrug friends would make – it would be amazing.
    • The person Gulliver's talking to tells him he's being an idiot: in fact, the terrible thing about being a struldbrug is that you are immortal but you are not eternally young.
    • The struldbrugs age at the same rate as other humans, the difference being, that at 80 years old, they're much more miserable than other old people because they have the prospect of living on and on beyond their 80 years.
    • As soon as a struldbrug turns 80, he is dead in terms of the law, so all of his money goes to his heirs – he's totally poor.
    • Struldbrug marriages are also dissolved at 80, since they would make the couple so much more unhappy.
    • At 90, they start losing their teeth, so they don't enjoy eating anymore.
    • Their memories get bad enough that they can't read without forgetting, at the end of a sentence, how it began.
    • Because language evolves with time, older struldbrugs can't understand younger people at all.
    • They have to beg for money, since otherwise, they must get by on a tiny state allowance.
    • Gulliver feels ashamed of wishing to be a struldbrug, since being one is so completely awful.
    • At the same time, the Luggnaggian King does remind him that the sight of a struldbrug cures everyone of fear of death.

  • Part 3, Chapter 11

    "The author leaves Luggnagg, and sails to Japan. From thence he returns in a Dutch ship to Amsterdam, and from Amsterdam to England"

    • The Luggnaggian King offers Gulliver a job at court, but Gulliver wants to go home.
    • The King sends him off with a generous gift of gold.
    • Gulliver heads to Japan, where he uses a letter of recommendation from the Luggnaggian King to get an audience with the Emperor of Japan.
    • The two talk to each other using Dutch.
    • Gulliver tells the Emperor that he is a Dutch merchant looking for passage to "Nangasac" (3.10.4) – presumably Nagasaki, home to a large Dutch settlement in the eighteenth century.
    • Gulliver also asks the Emperor if he could please be excused from the Dutch custom of trampling on the cross, as a favor to his patron, the King of Luggnagg.
    • The Emperor agrees, but warns Gulliver not to let any of the Dutch know or he'll have his throat cut on the trip home.
    • Gulliver, of course, has lived in Holland – you may remember, way back in Part 1, Chapter 1, Gulliver mentions studying medicine at the University of Leiden.
    • His Dutch is great, and he manages to convince some Dutch sailors to let him sail with them.
    • They all ask if he's had a chance to stomp on the crucifix yet, and he dodges the question by saying he has "satisfied the Emperor [...] in all particulars" (3.11.5).
    • Gulliver's trip home is uneventful, and he finally gets to see his family after 5 and a half years away.
  • Part 4, Chapter 1

    "The author sets out as captain of a ship. His men conspire against him, confine him a long time to his cabin, and set him on shore in an unknown land. He travels up into the country. The Yahoos, a strange sort of animal, described. The author meets two Houyhnhnms."

    • Gulliver spends 5 months at home with his family before he heads out yet again, leaving his wife pregnant.
    • This time, he gets to be captain of his ship, the Adventurer. Their job is to trade goods with residents of the South Seas.
    • They set sail on September 7, 1710.
    • Several of Gulliver's sailors die of "calentures," a fever of the Tropics, so he has to hire some new guys.
    • These new guys form a conspiracy to mutiny against Gulliver. They keep Gulliver a prisoner in his own cabin as they sail around trading with the locals.
    • In May, 1711, one of the sailors comes down to Gulliver's cabin to tell him that they have decided to maroon Gulliver ashore.
    • Gulliver starts exploring his new island, where he sees some of its inhabitants from a distance: they look like naked, hairy monsters with claws for climbing trees. Gulliver finds them disgusting.
    • One of these beasts approaches Gulliver, and he hits it with the flat of his sword – he doesn't want to damage the animal, for fear that the inhabitants of the island will be angry that he's damaging their livestock.
    • The hairy thing roars, and about 40 other hairy things come running over.
    • Gulliver takes refuge in a tree, shaking his sword to keep the animals back, but they start throwing their excrement at him in rage. Gulliver is worried he's going to be smothered under all of this feces.
    • Suddenly, all the animals turn around and run away.
    • Gulliver looks over his shoulder and sees a horse coming his way. He looks rather surprised at the sight of Gulliver, and when Gulliver reaches to touch him, he shies away.
    • The horse neighs several times in a way that seems to have meaning.
    • A second horse arrives, and the two seem to be talking to each other.
    • Gulliver tries to sneak away, but one of the horses neighs at him and he returns as though he has been ordered.
    • What really seems to surprise the horses is Gulliver's clothes, which they keep indicating and talking over.
    • Gulliver finally addresses them, asking for their help in exchange for a knife and a bracelet he happens to be carrying. He thinks the horses are probably magicians in disguise.
    • The horses keep saying the word "Yahoo," which Gulliver repeats back to them.
    • They correct his pronunciation, and then teach him another word: "Houyhnhnm" (generally pronounced "whinnim," obviously coming from "whinny," the sound a horse makes).
    • The two horses part, and one of them (who is gray) indicates that Gulliver should follow him.

  • Part 4, Chapter 2

    "The author conducted by a Houyhnhnm to his house. The house described. The author's reception. The food of the Houyhnhnms. The author in distress for want of meat. Is at last relieved. His manner of feeding in this country."

    • Gulliver and the gray horse go about three miles, to a long, low building.
    • Gulliver sees several horses doing housework and thinks that the people who tamed these animals to such a degree must be the smartest people who ever were.
    • Gulliver starts to think he's hallucinating, because he can't figure out (a) where the people are, and (b) what kind of man needs to be served by horses.
    • Finally, Gulliver arrives at a building far from the main house, which has three of those gross, hairy animals from the previous chapter chained to the wall.
    • They are eating roots and meat from animals that have died by accident – donkeys, dogs, and cows.
    • The horse leader orders "the sorrel nag" ("sorrel" meaning a kind of chestnut or reddish color, "nag" meaning horse) to unchain one of the beasts and bring him to Gulliver.
    • When Gulliver sees this beast close up, he realizes that what the horses have been calling Yahoos are actually men: their hands have uncut nails, and they are a bit hairier and more calloused than Gulliver, but still, they are unmistakably human beings.
    • What is clearly confusing the horses is that Gulliver has the head of a Yahoo, but his body is pretty different: they don't understand that his clothes are not part of his skin.
    • The horses see that Gulliver truly loathes the Yahoos, and that he also can't eat the raw meat they eat.
    • Gulliver sees a cow passing and indicates that he will milk her, which is how he finally feeds himself.
    • Around noon, an elderly horse appears in a carriage drawn by 4 Yahoos.
    • He settles down with the gray horse to a lunch of hay, mashed oats, and milk.
    • They all appear extremely well-mannered, modest, and decent.
    • After lunch, the gray horse (whom Gulliver has started calling the Master Horse) indicates that he's worried that Gulliver has eaten so little.
    • Finally, Gulliver figures out a way to make a kind of bread out of oats, which he eats with milk. And even though it's not the most delicious food in the world, a steady diet of this stuff makes him really healthy.
    • Gulliver spends his first night lying in straw between the house and the Yahoo stable.

  • Part 4, Chapter 3

    "The author studies to learn the language, the Houyhnhnm, his master, assists in teaching him. The language described. Several Houyhnhnms of quality come out of curiosity to see the author. He gives his master a short account of his voyage."

    • Gulliver spends most of his early days in Houyhnhnm Land learning the language with the help of the sorrel nag, the reddish servant to the Master Horse.
    • Houyhnhnm language sounds a lot like German, but is more "graceful" (4.3.2).
    • The Master Horse is really interested in Gulliver because he is clearly a Yahoo, but he is so clean and teachable.
    • The Master Horse asks where Gulliver can possibly come from, to be so smart, but he also refuses to believe that Yahoos could ever build a boat or that there are countries across the sea.
    • Gulliver discovers that, in their language, "Houyhnhnm" means both horse and "perfection of nature" (4.3.5).
    • Many Houynhnhnms come to see Gulliver, staring in wonder at a Yahoo who seems to possess reason.
    • As we've said before, they don't really get clothes, but one night, as Gulliver is getting ready for bed, he accidentally exposes himself to the sorrel nag of the Master Horse. The servant thinks that Gulliver changes skins as he sleeps.
    • Gulliver has been trying to cover up the fact that underneath his clothes, he really is like the other Yahoos, but now his secret's out.
    • So Gulliver explains clothes to the Master Horse.
    • Even without his clothes, the Master Horse is impressed by how different Gulliver is from the other Yahoos, because his skin is so pale, soft, and relatively hairless.
    • Gulliver asks the Master Horse to stop calling him a Yahoo and to keep the secret of his clothes. The Master Horse agrees.
    • The Master Horse tells Gulliver to learn the Houyhnhnm language ASAP so that he can ask Gulliver more questions.
    • Gulliver is finally able to tell the Master Horse that he arrived at his island in a ship made by men and sailed by men, that he was set ashore thanks to an argument between men.
    • The Master Horse asks how the Houyhnhnms of Gulliver's country allowed a ship to be sailed by brutes.
    • Gulliver makes the Master Horse promise not to get mad, and then he explains that, in his country, the Houyhnhnms are the brutes and the men are the reasonable beings.
  • Part 4, Chapter 4

    "The Houyhnhnm's notion of truth and falsehood. The author's discourse disapproved by his master. The author gives a more particular account of himself, and the accidents of his voyage."

    • The Master Horse is confused because he feels doubt, but he is also completely unfamiliar with the idea of lying.
    • Gulliver tells the Master Horse about the poor treatment horses often receive as work animals in his home country.
    • The Master Horse is utterly disgusted to hear that Yahoos ride Houyhnhnms where Gulliver comes from. How dare they, when Houynhnhnms are so much stronger than Yahoos?
    • Gulliver talks about the process of breaking horses.
    • The Master Horse continues to be outraged. He admits that, if horses in Gulliver's country are stupid, then it make sense that the Yahoos win out, because reason beats strength every time.
    • The Master Horse wants to know if the Yahoos in Gulliver's country are more like Gulliver or like the Yahoos of Houyhnhnm Land?
    • Gulliver answers that they are more like him, which the Master Horse actually thinks is something of a disadvantage. Sure, they're better-looking, but they're also physically even weaker and less suited to survival.
    • It takes Gulliver ages to explain to the Master Horse about his own origins, because there are no words in Houyhnhnm language for things like deception, power, wealth, lust, or envy.
    • The Master Horse finally grasps what Gulliver is getting at when he describes human nature, and wants to hear more about European culture.

  • Part 4, Chapter 5

    "The author at his master's command, informs him of the state of England. The causes of war among the princes of Europe. The author begins to explain the English constitution.

    • Gulliver tells the Master Horse about some recent English history: the Glorious Revolution in 1689 and the War of the Spanish Succession from 1701 to 1714.
    • (The Glorious Revolution took place when the Protestant English Parliament decided that it did not want a hereditary monarchy of Catholics to rule the country – then-king James II and VII was a Catholic. So, Parliament decided that it had the power to appoint kings, and invited Dutch Protestant leader William of Orange to become William III of England. James II and VII fled to France and became the center of the Jacobite movement. The Glorious Revolution ushered in the reign of William and Mary, from 1689 to 1702 (source).
    • (The War of the Spanish Succession – oh God, this is complicated. Okay, so basically, there are four major European powers in competition at this point, the Spanish, the English, the French, and the Austrians. They are competing not only in Europe, but also for control of their colonial properties in the Americas.
    • King Charles II of Spain is growing old and has no children, so everyone's just waiting to see who's going to control the lands Spain has conquered.
    • England and France form an alliance against Leopold I of the Austrian Empire, but then France strikes out on its own and everything gets even less stable.
    • Finally, after plenty of expensive warfare, the upshot for England is that France signs over several of its territories in Eastern Canada, Britain gets commercial privileges in Spanish colonies in America, and the French promise not to support any of the exiled members of deposed king James II and VII's family (source).
    • The Master Horse wants to know why humans go to war. Gulliver answers: (1) ambition to conquer, (2) corruption of the government, (3) differences of opinion. Wars over opinions are the worst kind.
    • Here, the Master Horse says something really quite tragic: he tells Gulliver that, with all of this warlike nature, it's lucky that humans can't do too much damage to each other because their mouths aren't designed for easy biting.
    • Gulliver explains weapons and the damage that humans can do to each other.
    • The Master Horse stops Gulliver here, and says that he can't hear any more about war because it's too disturbing. Gulliver's tales have only made him hate Yahoos more and more.
    • The Master Horse thinks we don't have reason or rationality at all – we have some other thing that allows us to practice our bad qualities as much as possible.
    • The Master Horse is confused about law: how can laws be bad? How can laws ruin men, when they are designed to save them?
    • Gulliver explains about lawyers, who, he says, are trained from babyhood to defend anything, especially lies, so they have no sense of justice.
    • What's more, judges often prefer to agree with what appears obviously untrue, so people with right on their side may only win if they pretend that right is wrong.
    • Gulliver talks about precedent: anything that has been done before may legally be done again.
    • Lawyers like to split hairs and talk about irrelevant details to distract from the simple facts of all their cases.
    • They have their own private way of speaking, which excludes ordinary people from either understanding or making laws.
    • People in power can decide to convict others accused of crimes against the state because they have influence over the judges.
    • The Master Horse comments that it's a shame that they spend so much time training lawyers to be lawyers and not teaching them to be knowledgeable and wise.
  • Part 4, Chapter 6

    "A continuation of the state of England under Queen Anne. The character of a first minister of state in European courts."

    • Next up, Gulliver tries to explain the concept of greed to the Master Horse.
    • He claims that England grows enough food to support its population comfortably, but because they want luxury, they must export what they grow in exchange for things that they don't need.
    • This luxury – wine, rich food, too much sex – all leads the English to diseases, the likes of which the Houyhnhnms have never seen.
    • Another group of people have arisen to treat these diseases – to profit off them – using fake potions to make people purge their insides.
    • This group of people (doctors, of course) make so much profit on disease that they encourage people to think that they are sick even when they aren't.
    • They also use their wisdom to poison people who have become inconvenient: when husbands and wives have gotten tired of their partners or sons have gotten fed up with their fathers, doctors can take care of the problem.
    • The Master Horse wants to know what a "Minister of State" is (in American terms, something like a Cabinet Member for the President).
    • Gulliver tells the Master Horse that the First Minister of State is someone totally without any emotion besides ambition for money and power.
    • The chief qualifications for the First Minister of State are: (1) to know how to get rid of an inconvenient wife, daughter, or sister; (2) to betray the Minister who has come before you; (3) to shout endlessly against corruption at court (though, of course, Ministers always lie).
    • Chief Ministers of State dedicate themselves to bribing and intimidating others to follow their orders.
    • And Gulliver's tirade continues: he tells the Master Horse that the nobility in his country are educated to be lazy and ignorant, and that there is frequent mixing of classes that damages noble bloodlines.
    • Despite their total uselessness, they still have authority over all lower-born people in the country.

  • Part 4, Chapter 7

    "The author's great love of his native country. His master's observations upon the constitution and administration of England, as described by the author, with parallel cases and comparisons. His master's observations upon human nature."

    • Gulliver starts to hate the Yahoos and love the Houyhnhnms.
    • In fact, he decides that he never wants to leave Houyhnhnm Land and return to humankind.
    • The Master Horse gives Gulliver his conclusions: the European Yahoos have only enough reason to make their natural corruption worse.
    • By clipping our nails, cutting our hair, and generally growing soft, we have also deprived ourselves of the natural protection the Yahoos in Houyhnhnm Land have.
    • Even though there are outward differences between Gulliver and the Houyhnhnm Land Yahoos, their essential natures are the same: they hate each other more than other animals do, and will fight even without a reason.
    • The Yahoos of Houyhnhnm Land also love shiny rocks, which none of the Houyhnhnms understand, but which sees to be a trait of the whole human species.
    • Yahoos are the only animals in Houyhnhnm land who get sick, and they treat each other with medicine made from a mix of pee and poo (urgh).
    • The Master Horse does admit that European Yahoos have a lot more art than their local Yahoos.
    • Still, their natures seem essentially identical: for example, Houyhnhnm Land Yahoos also like to choose a leader, usually the weakest and ugliest of the group.
    • As for women (what the Master Horse calls "she Yahoos" (4.7.15)), he observes that Yahoos are the only ones among animal kind that still have sex even when the woman is pregnant. (Swift's point here seems to be that sex is for procreation, so once a woman's pregnant, she shouldn't need sex – which, if we may editorialize, is kind of icky of him.)
    • He also notes that Yahoos are unique in having both males and females fighting equally violently with one another.
    • The Master Horse continues: Yahoos love filth more than most animals.
    • Also, Yahoos sometimes fall into bad moods or think they are sick for no reason; the only cure for this hypochondria is hard work.
    • Women Yahoos like to seduce men. Sometimes, if an unknown female comes up to a group of three or four women, those women will clearly judge and then reject her.
    • Gulliver hears these words and realizes that "lewdness, coquetry, censure, and scandal" (4.7.19) all seem to be instinctive for human women. (For a discussion of Gulliver's views on women, check out our theme on "Gender.")

  • Part 4, Chapter 8

    "The author relates several particulars of the Yahoos. The great virtues of the Houyhnhnms. The education and exercise of their youth. Their general assembly."

    • Gulliver asks the Master Horse for permission to observe the Yahoos, which the Master Horse gives as long as Gulliver is always accompanied by a Houyhnhnm guard – the sorrel nag.
    • Yahoo children are agile, and they also smell bad.
    • Yahoos are strong but cowardly, stubborn, lying, and deceitful.
    • The Yahoos also swim well, which leads Gulliver to an adventure.
    • One day, the weather is so hot that he wants to go for a swim, so he asks the sorrel nag if he may go for a dip in the river.
    • The sorrel nag agrees.
    • A young female Yahoo finds Gulliver so hot that she goes running into the river to try and seduce him on the spot.
    • Gulliver freaks out and yells.
    • At the sight of his Houyhnhnm guard, she runs away.
    • Gulliver is truly embarrassed, because this is the final proof he needs that he is, in fact, a Yahoo.
    • Gulliver has spent three years in Houyhnhnm Land and is ready to tell the reader a bit more about the Houyhnhnms.
    • The Houyhnhnms do not understand the word "opinion" truly, because they are totally devoted to reason, and you can only have an opinion about something you do not know absolutely.
    • It doesn't make sense to argue over something you can't know; the Houyhnhnms believe that you should respect other people's ideas without trying to dominate with your own.
    • The Houyhnhnms are equally good to their neighbors and strangers; they value friendship above all else.
    • When a female Houyhnhnm has had a foal of each gender, a couple will stop producing children. This is to keep Houyhnhnm Land from becoming overpopulated.
    • The rule is slightly relaxed for servant-class Houyhnhnms , who can have up to three kids of each gender.
    • The Houyhnhnms do not believe in mixing races, so a Houyhnhnm will only marry another Houyhnhnm of the same color. (For a discussion of race in Gulliver's Travels, check out our "Character Analyses" of the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos.)
    • The Houyhnhnms apply their rules of reason even to marriage, which is always arranged for a couple by their parents. Houyhnhnm couples are always faithful.
    • The Houyhnhnms believe in equality of education for the sexes, since it's not rational to leave half the species knowing nothing except how to bear children.
    • Children are strictly disciplined, with a restricted grass diet and lots and lots of exercise.
    • The Houyhnhnms have assemblies representing the whole nation every four years, where they check in to make sure everyone has all the supplies they need.
    • If one Houyhnhnm couple has two sons and another has two daughters, they'll trade one to make sure that they have the set quantity of one boy and one girl.
    • If one family has lost one or both children, another Houyhnhnm couple has to have a child to supply their loss.
  • Part 4, Chapter 9

    "A grand debate at the general assembly of the Houyhnhnms, and how it was determined. The learning of the Houyhnhnms. Their buildings. Their manner of burials. The defectiveness of their language."

    • The Houyhnhnms hold one of their four-year grand assemblies while Gulliver is there.
    • They go back to an old debate: whether Yahoos should be wiped off the face of the Earth.
    • On the side of "yes": they're disgusting and they have to be watched constantly to keep them from doing bad things.
    • Also, Yahoos are not native to Houyhnhnm Land: a man and a woman arrived one day, washed up on the shores of the island.
    • The Houyhnhnms caught and tamed their children.
    • The Master Horse speaks up to say, yes, it seems likely that these two original Yahoos came from over the sea, because the Master Horse has found one (Gulliver) who is a much better specimen of the Yahoo kind.
    • The Master Horse tells his fellows that, in Gulliver's land, Houyhnhnms are the servants and Yahoos are the rational animals.
    • The Master Horse also informs them about the human practice of castrating horses to make them less aggressive – why don't the Houyhnhnms try this method on young Yahoos of their own country?
    • This way, the Houyhnhnms could make the Yahoos more docile, which would mean they wouldn't need to kill them all.
    • The Houyhnhnms don't write anything down; they rely on oral records for their history.
    • They also don't have much in the way of astronomy, except to measure months and years.
    • They write beautiful poetry about friendship and in praise of their athletes.
    • Unless they have some kind of accident, they only die of old age, usually at around 70 or 75.
    • All of their words for something bad are connected to Yahoos, so a poorly built house is ynholmhmrohlnw Yahoo, and a stone that cuts their feet, ynlhmndwihlma Yahoo.
  • Part 4, Chapter 10

    "The author's economy, and happy life, among the Houyhnhnms. His great improvement in virtue by conversing with them. Their conversations. The author has notice given him by his master, that he must depart from the country. He falls into a swoon for grief; but submits. He contrives and finishes a canoe by the help of a fellow-servant, and puts to sea at a venture."

    • Gulliver is absolutely content: he has all the shelter (thanks, in part, to the building skills of the sorrel nag), clothing, and clothes he needs, and he feels completely calm and at peace.
    • Gulliver has lots of nice friends among the Houyhnhnms; in fact, he's proud that the Houyhnhnms sometimes say that he "trots like a horse" (4.10.4).
    • Sadly, one morning the Master Horse comes to see Gulliver and to tell him that the Houyhnhnms have voted that Gulliver must go away. They worry that such a smart Yahoo might encourage the other Yahoos to rise up and kill the Houyhnhnm's cattle.
    • The Master Horse tells Gulliver that he will be sorry to see him go – but he will have to.
    • Gulliver is heartbroken at this news, so much so that he actual faints.
    • The Master Horse gives Gulliver two months to finish his boat, which he builds with the help of the sorrel nag.
    • Gulliver explores the coast with his telescope and finds a small island about three and a half miles away that he can reach in his boat.
    • Finally, when the day comes for Gulliver to leave, the Master Horse and his whole family come to see him off.
    • Gulliver cries and kisses the hoof of the Master Horse.
  • Part 4, Chapter 11

    "The author's dangerous voyage. He arrives at New Holland, hoping to settle there. Is wounded with an arrow by one of the natives. Is seized and carried by force into a Portuguese ship. The great civilities of the captain. The author arrives in England."

    • It is February 15, 1714.
    • The Master Horse and his family keep watching Gulliver from the shore until he floats out of sight.
    • The sorrel nag calls to Gulliver to take care of himself.
    • Gulliver hopes to find the island uninhabited, but still with enough resources to support him.
    • He really doesn't want to return to the Yahoos.
    • On the fourth day, he sees people – they are naked and sitting around a fire.
    • He jumps into a canoe and rows away, but not before the people shoot his knee with a poisoned arrow, which leaves a scar.
    • As Gulliver is rowing away as fast as he can, he sees a sail in the distance, from a European ship.
    • Gulliver finally decides to go back to where he saw the natives: he would rather hang around with them than with the European Yahoos.
    • But, unfortunately, the ship's sailors land and stumble on Gulliver anyway. They address Gulliver in Portuguese, and he answers that he is a "poor Yahoo banished from the Houyhnhnms" (4.11.7).
    • Gulliver tells them that he is from England.
    • Since the English and the Portuguese are not at war, he hopes they will not be mean to him.
    • The sailors bring Gulliver aboard their ship, which is heading for Lisbon in Portugal.
    • Gulliver meets the captain, Don Pedro de Mendez, who wants to know where Gulliver is from. He's so distressed to be back among the Yahoos that he won't tell the captain – in fact, he tries to throw himself into the sea to swim away, but he is caught before he can.
    • Don Pedro thinks Gulliver is lying at first, as he starts talking about Houyhnhnm land.
    • Gulliver is confused at his doubt – it has been many years since Gulliver has heard a lie.
    • Don Pedro makes Gulliver promise that he will not try to kill himself on the way home.
    • Gulliver promises, and he also tries not to talk endlessly about how much he hates people now (though he can't help himself).
    • They arrive at Lisbon, and Don Pedro insists that Gulliver stay at his own house and borrow some clothes (again, over Gulliver's protests, since he's not used to thinking about style or fit any longer).
    • After 10 days in Portugal, Don Pedro tells Gulliver that it is his responsibility to go back home to his family.
    • It would be impossible for Gulliver to find a solitary island to maroon himself on, but in his own home, he could be as much of a hermit as he wants to be.
    • Gulliver grudgingly agrees, and heads back to his home.
    • His wife and children are delighted to see him, because they thought he was dead.
    • But Gulliver is disgusted: he is still having trouble looking at Yahoos.
    • The thought that he had sex with one, his wife, and brought three more Yahoos onto this earth, fills him with despair.
    • In fact, it's been five years since he's gotten back to England, and he can still barely stand to be in their presence.
    • Gulliver has bought two young stallions, which he keeps in a good stable. He visits them and talks to them at least four hours a day (!).

  • Part 4, Chapter 12

    "The author's veracity. His design in publishing this work. His censure of those travellers who swerve from the truth. The author clears himself of any sinister ends in writing. An objection answered. The method of planting colonies. His native country commended. The right of the crown to those countries described by the author is justified. The difficulty of conquering them. The author takes his last leave of the reader; proposes his manner of living for the future; gives good advice, and concludes."

    • Gulliver claims that absolutely everything he has written is absolutely true.
    • In fact, he thinks it's a disgrace that so many travelers embroider or exaggerate their published accounts of their trips around the world.
    • Gulliver's motto is: Nec si miserum Fortuna Sinonem/Finxit, vanum etiam, menacemque improba finget (4.12.3) – "Though Fortune has made Sinon wretched, she has not made him untrue and a liar." (citation: Robert Greenberg, Editor, Gulliver's Travels: An Annotated Text With Critical Essays. New York: Norton, 1961, 256). In other words, though Gulliver is bummed about having left Houyhnhnm Land, he still refuses to lie about any of his experiences.
    • The purpose of writing his memoirs is not to gain fame, but to share the superior example of the Houyhnhnms with the world.
    • Gulliver has been warned that he must first relate his experiences to an English secretary of state in order to give England the opportunity of invading the lands he has visited.
    • It wouldn't be profitable to try: the Lilliputians are too small to be worth it, the Brobdingnagians, too large and dangerous, and the Laputians, literally out of reach.
    • While the Houyhnhnms are totally inexperienced with war, still, the English shouldn't invade them.
    • The Houyhnhnms are smart, strong, and love their country – they would figure out how to defend it quickly enough.
    • In fact, Gulliver wishes that the Houyhnhnms would come over and teach all of their virtues to the European Yahoos.
    • A further reason why Gulliver doesn't want the Europeans to conquer the lands he has seen is because they don't seem to want to be conquered.
    • Taking their lands against their will is cruel.
    • So now, Gulliver is nearing the end of his tale.
    • Gulliver is sitting in his garden thinking; he is instructing his family as best he can; he is applying the lessons of Houyhnhnm Land; he is looking at his face in the mirror to get used to the features of Yahoos; and he is mourning the treatment of Houyhnhnms in England.
    • Just this last week (after five years home), Gulliver is able to let his wife sit at dinner with him – at the far end of the table.
    • What he really hates is not the bad qualities that Yahoos can't seem to escape. It's the pride they feel in themselves even though they are so disgusting, diseased, and detestable.
    • The Houyhnhnms, who possess good natures, are not proud, because they are born good, and cannot help but be good. They don't need to congratulate themselves.
    • The only way that Gulliver will ever be able to sit in the company of an English Yahoo again is if they avoid at least this one sin: the sin of pride.