Study Guide

Gulliver's Travels Part 1, Chapter 5

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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.

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