Gullivers Travels Essay, Research Paper
Gulliver s Travels
By Jonathan Swift
Lemuel Gulliver- He is a sailor and observes many different cultures on multiple islands.
Emperor of Lilliput- He uses Gulliver to defeat his enemy and then tries to kill him when
he refuses to annihilate them.
King of Laputa- He is a peaceful and moral king. He runs a country without complexities and cannot understand abstract ideas.
Queen of Laputa- Takes a special liking to Gulliver, and purchases him. She also owns a
dwarf who hates Gulliver for gaining her favor.
Munodi- The governor of Balnibarbi- Tells Gulliver about the history and problems of his island.
The setting of the novel takes place on various islands throughout the world. His homeland is England. He travels to the islands of Lilliput, Blefscu, Surat, Brobdingag, Laputa(a flying island), Balnibarbi(another flying island), Lagado, Glubbdubdrib, Luggnagg, and Japan. The novel takes place in the first half of the 18th century.
The book begins when Gulliver goes to sea. He is a surgeon on the ship, Antelope. During this voyage there is a windstorm, which sinks the ship causing Gulliver to swim to Lilliput. Once there he finds little men 6 inches tall. They take him to a temple, the only place large enough for him. The Emperor is not sure what to do with Gulliver, but he is very pleased with his behavior. Gulliver is granted partial freedom for cooperating with the emperor, and given plenty of food.
Two countries are at war, Lilliput and Blefscu. The war started over a petty religious debate about which side of the table their eggs should be broken on. Blefscu soon tries to invade Lilliput put they are stopped by Gulliver. Gulliver, who wants a peace treaty, refused to completely destroy Blefscu. His disagreement with the Emperor is made worse when he puts out a fire in the palace by urinating on it. The Emperor pardons this act but is still at odds with Gulliver.
Laws in Lilliput are particularly strict. The latest accusation against Gulliver is the worst of all of them. He is accused of treason. The reason for this is Gulliver is costing to much money, so he uses the false charge of being attracted to Flimnap s wife. The Emperor accepts the charges but refuses to kill him. But his solution is just the same, blind him and starve him slowly. Gulliver escapes when he hears about this. He arrives in Blefscu and stays for a short time. Lilliputan wants him to return but the Emperor of Blefscu rejects the request feeling that Gulliver will help prevent all out war. He is soon picked up by a merchant ship and returns home to England.
On his next voyage he sets sail for Surat. A storm causes the ship to stray off course onto a strange island. The crew is chased by giant people and runs back to their ship, leaving Gulliver. These giants, who Gulliver finds friendly, take him back to their village where he stays with a farmer. Here Gulliver performs for the farmer, who charges for people to see him. The Queen buys Gulliver from the farmer after he performs for her. Gulliver soon captures the favor of the Queen. The King and Queen take Gulliver around the country. Gulliver finds the inhabitants disgusting, which causes him problems when he returns home to his family, because he realizes they are like them.
When they return to the palace things only get worse. He is humiliated countless times by things such as falling into a mole hole and being stripped by the maids. Gulliver is given things to entertain himself though, the Queen builds him a toy boat to use. This becomes a disaster when the boat is almost destroyed by a frog. The King holds audiences for Gulliver to tell about his homeland, England. Gulliver also begins teaching the King about England, but his first lesson about gunpowder horrifies the king because Gulliver suggested that the King should use it. The King told Gulliver he will be executed if he ever speaks of it again.
After spending two years in Brobdingag Gulliver decides to escape. The reason for this is he did not want to become a royal pet. He escapes near the seashore were an eagle picks him up in a box and drops him in the ocean. He is found by an English ship and is then returned home.
After staying home for a few months he sets sail on another voyage. This time to the port of Tonquin on the ship Hopewell. Gulliver s ship is attacked by pirates and he, as the captain, is set adrift. He is rescued by a flying island. The island is called Laputa, and it s people have few interests. The women are adulterous and the men are obsessed with math and music.
The island itself tyrannizes the people of Balnibarbi and can toy with them at will. He is eventually lowered to Balnibarbi and there he meets with the Governor of Lagado, Munodi. He shows Gulliver around a barren island. It got this way because of the academy of Projectors . It s purpose was to change arts, sciences, languages and mechanics but it never worked. This cause the land to become fruitless.
Next he visits the island Glubbdubdrib. This island is home to many sorcerers. The mayor of this island brings people back from the dead. Some of the people the sorcerer invokes are Alexander the Great, Caesar, Brutus and Hannibal to meet with Gulliver. He also learned much of accepted History is false.
Gulliver journeys to two more islands. The first is Luggnagg. He is first imprisoned because he is believed to be Dutch. Gulliver follows the Kings ridiculous instructions and because of this he is invited to stay 3 more months. He also learns about people who are immortal on his stay. They are called Struldbruggs. He is at first envious of them, but once he learns that though they are immortal, they continue to age and decay he quickly rids himself of that envy. The other, and last island he visits is Japan. This chapter has little importance except to continue attacking the Dutch. The custom here states that the Dutch, once in Japan, stomp on a crucifix. The emperor excuses Gulliver from this. He heads to Amsterdam and then back to his homeland of England.
After five months at home he sets sail for his last voyage. During this voyage many of the crew become sick, so he hired replacement. These replacements were pirates who organize a mutiny on the ship. They leave Gulliver on an island where he encounters the Yahoos. They look like primates. He is attacked by them and rescued by horses called Houyhnhnm. The horse takes Gulliver back to his home and provides him with a place to live and food to eat. He also meets more Yahoos here. He realizes he is almost identical to a Yahoo.
Gulliver learns about the culture of the Houyhnhnm s and also teaches them. He learns their language and teaches them how to write. The Houyhnhnm are mystified by Gulliver. He is like a Yahoo but he s rational. He also introduces a new concept to them; lies. The Houyhnhnm s also notice something about Oliver, in his countries the roles are reversed. The lower classes act more like the Houyhnhnm and the upper classes act more like the Yahoos. He also tells them about religious wars, where Europeans kill each other over petty religious differences. But the more Gulliver talks the more the Houyhnhnm think he is like the Yahoos.
Gulliver visits the Yahoos. But he cannot accept them because they repulse him. During his visit he is saved by his protector because the Yahoos attempt to assault him. The Houyhnhnm show their true hatred of the Yahoos. With one horse saying they should be exterminated because they are not native. This sounds more like Hitler s philosophy that lead to the horrors of the holocaust than a civilized beings philosophy. But ironically he begins stating how they are a reasonable race.
Gulliver admires the Houyhnhnm culture greatly. In fact he admires them so much he wants to become one. This frightens the Houyhnhnm greatly and they order his master to either treat him like a Yahoo or tell him to swim back to his homeland. He is heartbroken at this and his final request is to kiss the hoof of his master. He leaves the island and arrives at another nearby island where he is taken prisoner by the Yahoo. He is eventually freed to his homeland in England.
Once home the effects of his last voyage still linger. His family is happy, they though him to be dead, but he is not as happy. It takes him a while to even be able to eat with him. They are too close to the Yahoos in his mind.