Study Guide

Gulliver's Travels Part 2, Chapter 7

By Jonathan Swift

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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.

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