Study Guide

Gulliver's Travels Part 3, Chapter 6

By Jonathan Swift

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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.

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