Study Guide

Gulliver's Travels Part 4, Chapter 11

By Jonathan Swift

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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 (!).

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