Study Guide

Gulliver's Travels Part 2, Chapter 5

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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.

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