SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT 2: SUMMARY
Part 3 A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, and Japan
In Part III, Gulliver journeys to the flying island of Laputa and some of its colonies nearby. His first stop was Laputa, where the inhabitants had one eye turned inward and one eye turned up to the sky. They were always thinking of their own speculations (inward) and of lofty issues in mathematics, astronomy and music (upward). They were so fixated they needed “flappers” to box them on the ear to let them know someone was talking to them. Because the Laputians were despotic rulers of their colonies, and because they paid precious little attention to Gulliver, he got sick of them and went on to the island of Balnibarbi.
There Gulliver became friendly with Count Munodi, who was the only one on the island who lived in a beautiful, well-built house and whose lands yielded crops. The others-Projectors, most of them, engaged in “advanced” scientific research doing everything according to the most “sophisticated” theories. Consequently their houses were in ruins and their lands lay fallow. Gulliver visited the Academy of the Projectors to learn more about them, and witnessed a series of perfectly useless, wasteful experiments.
In Glubbdubdrib Gulliver was able to call up historical figures from the past and converse with them. In Luggnagg Gulliver met the Struldbrugs, a race of people who lived forever. They did not have eternal youth, though; rather, they grew perpetually older, more feeble, miserable, and useless. Gulliver returned to England before again setting sail.
This small boat was attacked and captured by two ships of pirates. The Japanese pirates were accompanied by a Dutchman, who told the English that he wanted them to be tied up and thrown into the sea. Gulliver, who spoke Dutch, begged the pirate to let them go, but his requests and his reference to the Dutchman as a “brother Christian” seemed only to make the Dutchman angrier. A Japanese pirate captain reassured them they would not die, and decided to split Gulliver’s crew between their two ships. Gulliver told the Dutchman that he was surprised to find more mercy in a heathen than in a Christian. At his words the Dutchman grew angry and punished Gulliver by setting him adrift in a small canoe with only four days’ worth of food.
Gulliver rowed to some tiny local islands nearby, but he couldn’t find much food or shelter on any of them. While he was standing on the fifth and last island, Gulliver saw a mysterious shadow blot out the sun for some time. He took out his telescope, looked up, and saw that it was a floating island covered with people. He was baffled by this floating island and shouted up to its inhabitants. They lowered the island and sent down a chain by which he was drawn up.
Gulliver was immediately surrounded by people and noticed that they were all quite odd. Their heads were all tilted to one side or the other, with one eye turned inward and the other looking up. Their clothes were adorned with images of celestial bodies and musical instruments. Gulliver immediately realised that the inhabitants of Laputa were a distracted people who had a very limited attention span and very narrow interests; that was the reason why the servants carried a “flapper” made of a stick with a pouch tied to the end. Their job was to aid conversation by striking the ear of the listener and the mouth of the speaker at the appropriate times to prevent their masters’ minds from wandering off.
Gulliver was conveyed to the king, who sat behind a table loaded with mathematical instruments. They waited an hour before there was some opportunity to arouse the king from his thoughts, at which point he was struck with the flapper. The king said something, and Gulliver’s ear was struck with the flapper as well, even though he tried to explain that he did not require such actions. It became clear that he and the king could not speak any of the same languages, so Gulliver was taken to an apartment and served dinner.
A teacher was sent to instruct Gulliver in the language of the island, and he was able to learn several sentences. He discovered that the name of the island is Laputa, which in their language meantcity of the kingdom, Lagado, passing villages along the way. As they went they collected petitions from the king’s subjects by means of ropes sent down to the lands below.
The language of the Laputians relied heavily on mathematical and musical concepts, as they valued these theoretical disciplines above everything. The Laputians despised practical geometry, thinking it vulgar—so much so that they made sure that there were no right angles in their buildings. They were very good with charts and figures but very clumsy in practical matters. They practiced astrology and dreaded changes in the celestial bodies. They spent their time listening to the music of the spheres. They believed in astrology and worried constantly that the sun would go out. The Laputian houses, he noticed, were badly built, without accurate right angles.
Gulliver discovered that Laputa controlled the continent under it, Balnibarbi, and that there were frequent visitors and deliveries from sea level up to Laputa by means of rope. In fact, the king lived in Laputa, but Balnibarbi was the capital city. What surprised Gulliver was that, even though all the Laputians knew only mathematics and music, they still liked to talk endlessly about politics. He also found it strange that the Laputians live in such constant fear of the end of the world that they hardly slept at night or enjoyed life. The women of Laputa despised their husbands and loved strangers.
Gulliver became pretty fluent in Laputian after a month. He and the king talked but the king didn’t bother asking him about the countries he had seen; all of his questions revolved around mathematics and science known to Gulliver’s people.
The flying or floating island was exactly circular, it had a diameter about four miles and a half, and an area of ten thousand acres. It was three hundred yards thick. The bottom, or under surface was a hard, unbreakable stone plate about two hundred yards thick. Above it lay several minerals and the top most layer was rich mould. The surface sloped from the sides to the centre and the rain was conveyed in small rivulets into four large basins that collected rain water. The monarch could raise the island above the region of clouds and vapours preventing the falling of dew and rain whenever he pleased.
At the centre of the island was a deep canyon, called FlandonaGagnole, or the astronomer’s cave. This cave contained all their astronomical instruments and a magnet six yards long in the middle of it. This magnet attracted at one end, repelled at the other. The island was made to rise and fall, and move from one place to another with the help of this magnet. The movement of Laputa had limits:
it couldn’t go beyond the king’s own dominions, in other words, the islands that he controlled at sea level. It also couldn’t rise higher than four miles above the earth.
It was the job of the king’s astronomers to do the actual manipulation of the magnet at his orders. They also spent a lot of time discovering things about the solar system and the stars. The only thing that limited the king’s control of the earth below him was that all of his cabinet members had estates on the islands below Laputa, so they found the idea of dominating the islands under them to be pretty risky for their own families.
At the same time, the king still had two methods for keeping his authority over the lower islands without absolutely enslaving them. If any of them refused to pay tribute, he made his island float directly overhead, blocking their sunlight and rain, until they gave in and, if they continued to refuse to obey him, the king could drop his island directly on their heads.
The king rarely ordered this kind of total destruction because his ministers had their homes down below, and his own people would revolt against him.
Such measures failed to work in the city of Lindalino, where the rebellious inhabitants had stored provisions of food in advance. They planned to force the island to come so low that it would be trapped forever and to kill the king and his officials in order to take over the government. The King, who was also secretly worried that the power of his magnet might not be strong enough to lift the island again if it came crashing to earth, ordered the island to stop descending and gave in to the town’s demands.
Laputa also had a law that neither the king nor his two eldest sons, nor the queen are allowed to leave the floating island.
Gulliver felt neglected on Laputa, since the inhabitants seemed interested only in mathematics and music and were far superior to him in their knowledge. He was bored by their conversation and wanted to leave. There was one lord of the court whom Gulliver found to be intelligent and curious and who had done many great things for the state, but he got no respect because he had no ear for music and no talent for mathematics. He and Gulliver bonded because they could talk sensibly to each other. Gulliver asked this lord to petition the king to let him leave the island. The king agreed, gave him some money and he was let down on the mountains above Lagado.
He visited another lord, named Munodi, and was invited to stay at his home. Gulliver was disappointed at the sight of Lagado, though the town, was about half the size of London; had houses very strangely built, and most of them out of repair. The people in the streets walked fast, looked wild, their eyes fixed, and were generally in rags. He expressed his opinion on the poverty of Lagado to Lord Munodi, who suggested that they kept that conversation for a later time, when they were safely at Lord Munodi’s own estates.
They then travelled to Munodi’s country house, passing many barren fields before arriving at Munodi’s estates. Lord Munodi’s estates were beautiful, well-cultivated, and seemed prosperous—totally the opposite of the other Balnibarbi lands. He said that the other lords criticised him heavily for the “mismanagement” of his land- he had left his orchards, fields, and home in the old model of his forefathers, while the rest of Balnibarbi had gone over to new ideas of farming.
Munodi explained that forty years ago some people had gone to Laputa and returned with new ideas about mathematics and art. They decided to establish an academy in Lagado to develop new theories on agriculture and construction and to initiate projects to improve the lives of the city’s inhabitants. The professors promised all kinds of miracles—auto-ripening fruit, reduction of working hours, etc., but the problem was—all their calculations didn’t actually work. The new techniques left the country in ruin. Lord Munodi promised to get Gulliver an invitation to Lagado’s Royal Academy if he wanted it, which Gulliver did since he was once intrigued by projects of this sort himself.
The Royal Academy in Lagado was not an entire single building, but a continuation of several houses on both sides of a street, which were lying vacant, and were purchased and applied to that use. Gulliver was received very kindly by the warden, and spent many days at the academy, where there were at least 500 Projectors who came up with a variety of visionary, impracticable schemes. Gulliver met a man engaged in a project to extract sunbeams from cucumbers. He also met a scientist trying to turn excrement back into food. Another was attempting to turn ice into gunpowder and was writing a treatise about the malleability of fire, hoping to have it published. An architect was designing a way to build houses from the roof down, and a blind master was teaching his blind apprentices to mix colours for painters according to smell and touch. An agronomist was designing a method of ploughing fields with hogs by first burying food in the ground and then letting the hogs loose to dig it out.
Gulliver complained of colic, and his guide led him into a room where a great physician resided, who was famous for curing that disease. This doctor tried to cure patients by blowing air through them. Gulliver left this doctor trying to revive a dog that he had killed by supposedly curing it in this way.
On the other side of the academy there were people engaged in speculative learning. One professor had a class full of boys working from a machine that produced random sets of words. Using this machine, the teacher claimed, anyone could write a book on philosophy or politics. A linguist in another room was attempting to remove all the elements of language except nouns. Such pruning, he claimed, would make language more concise and prolong lives, since every word spoken was detrimental to the human body. Since nouns were only things, furthermore, it would be even easier to carry things and never speak at all. Another professor tried to teach mathematics by having his students eat wafers that had mathematical proofs written on them.
Gulliver then visited professors who were studying issues of government. He sarcastically referred to them as being “wholly out of their senses”. They proposed schemes for persuading monarchs to choose favourites based on their wisdom, capacity, and virtue; of teaching ministers to consult the public good; of rewarding merit, great abilities, eminent services; of instructing princes to know their true interest, by placing it on the same foundation with that of their people; of choosing for employments persons qualified to exercise them, with many other wild, impossible schemes.
However, not all of them were so visionary. One of the political projectors suggested 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 suggested that all senators should receive regular medical treatment to make sure that they didn’t fall into greed, corruption, or bribery. He also suggested various “cures” for the weak memories and poor decision-making of senators. He also opined that, if political parties became violent, a hundred leaders from each political party could be taken and their brains split in such a manner that the brain may be equally divided and the portion cut-off to be interchanged, applying each to the head of his opposite party-man. In this way, each skull would have half a conservative and half a liberal brain in it. Then they could argue it out among themselves.
To raise money, there was a proposal to tax everything bad in a man, as decided by his neighbours; a second fellow suggested that they tax everything good about a man, again, as assessed by his neighbours. The problem was ensuring that jealous neighbours would not unjustly accuse each other. Another claimed that women should be taxed according to their beauty and skill at dressing.
To choose who would serve in high office, a professor proposed a raffle, which would keep hope alive among senators who might otherwise turn against the crown. And another professor advised that one could tell if a man was plotting against the government by measuring and analysing his excrement. Gulliver offered to tell this professor about a land he had seen, “Tribnia”, which its residents called “Langden”. Gulliver informed them that the plots in “Tribnia” were generally hatched by informers who wanted to raise their own reputations by making up stuff. Usually, the accusers decided who to target in advance so they could raid the homes of the accused. There, they stole all the letters belonging to the accused so they could find “proof” of treason by assigning special meanings and fake codes to the words of the accused. If making false allegations failed, these people had two other methods even more effectual. They could decipher all initial letters into political meanings. Or by transposing the letters of the alphabet in any suspected paper, they could give it any meaning they chose, thereby, they laid open the deepest designs of a discontented party.
Gulliver grew tired of the academy and began to yearn for a return to England.
Gulliver claimed that Balnibarbiwas situated in the Pacific, west of California, which had not yet been charted. To the north of Lagado lay the island of Luggnagg, which was not far southeast of Japan. These two countries had trade relations, so Gulliver decided to go to Luggnagg, sail for Japan, and then head for Europe. Gulliver tried to travel to Luggnagg, but he found no ship available. Since he had to wait a month before a boat would arrive at the port city of Maldonada to take him to Luggnagg, he was advised to take a trip to Glubbdubdrib, the island of sorcerers. These sorcerers were very private and only married among each other. The Governor of Glubbdubdrib can raise the dead, but only for one day, and he can’t call them back again until three months had gone by.
Gulliver visited the governor of Glubbdubdrib, who asked Gulliver about his adventures. He found that servants who attended the governor were spirits who could appear and disappear. After ten days on Glubbdubdrib, Gulliver became so familiar with the sight of ghosts that apprehension was replaced by curiosity. This led the Governor to make him an offer: Gulliver could speak to any ghosts he chose and to as many as he wanted to. The one thing he had to promise was that he would only ask them questions about their own time. Gulliver chose Alexander the Great, who told him that he had died not from poison but from excessive drinking. He then saw the Carthaginian general Hannibal and the Roman leaders Caesar, Pompey, and Brutus. Gulliver didn’t want to bore the reader with a complete list of who he spoke to, but most of his conversations were with great men of history who had killed tyrants and had fought for liberty.
Gulliver set apart one day to speak with the most venerated people in history, starting with Homer and Aristotle. A ghost informed Gulliver that later scholars who commented on their works had horribly misrepresented the meaning of those authors to posterity. Gulliver also talked to a number of thinkers dealing with the nature of the universe, including the French philosophers Rene Descartes and Pierre Gassendi. He asked Rene Descartes and Pierre Gassendi to describe their systems to Aristotle, who freely acknowledged his own mistakes while pointing out that systems of nature would always vary from age to age as each new age of humanity comes up with a new system to explain nature.
Gulliver also met most of the Emperors of Rome. Then he moved on to the more recently deceased ones. He saw plenty of evidence of family degeneration into stupidity and lying. Speaking to the ghosts of the recent past showed Gulliver exactly how much lying goes around today, and how much history had been manipulated to look better for worse) than it really was. Gulliver wanted to find out how people had gotten their official and court positions and found that it was through horrible means: bribery, lying, sucking up, oppression, treason and poisoning. The only really great services done to the state had been by people who history calls traitors and criminals. In fact, he also realised that this kind of hypocrisy was present even in Rome, once the Empire started to grow rich and luxurious. The introduction of similar wealth to England had made the English people progressively, visibly less healthy, complained Gulliver. Total corruption had caused England to grow repulsive over the last 100 years.Theywould make the couple so much more unhappy. At 90, they started losing their teeth, so they didn’t enjoy eating anymore. Their memories got bad and they couldn’t read without forgetting, at the end of a sentence, how it began. Because language evolved with time, older Struldbrugscouldn’t understand younger people at all. They had to beg for money, since otherwise, they had to get by on a tiny state allowance. Gulliver met some struldbrugs and found them to be unhappy and unpleasant, and he regretted ever wishing for their state. At the same time, the Luggnaggian King reminded him that the sight of a Struldbrug cured everyone of the fear of death.
The narrator returns to Maldonada. He sails to the kingdom of Luggnagg. The narrator is confined. He is sent for to the court. The manner of his admittance and the king’s great levity to his subjects are described.
Gulliver finally left Glubbdubdrib and headed for Luggnagg. He arrived in Luggnagg on 21 April 1708. Gulliver started speaking to a customs officer in Luggnagg, where he pretended to be Dutch, since Gulliver’s eventual destination was Japan, and the Japanese would only allow Dutch traders access to their harbours. Gulliver was detained in Luggnagg by red tape, so he hired an interpreter who spoke both Luggnagg and Balnibarbi and answered frequent questions about his travels and the countries he had seen.
Eventually, Gulliver was granted an audience with the King of Luggnagg and was given lodging and an allowance. He learnt that subjects were expected to lick the floor as they approached the king, and that the king sometimes got rid of opponents in the court by coating the floor with poison. Gulliver exchanged ritual greetings with the king and then spoke to him through his interpreter. The king really liked Gulliver: he gave him some money and let him stay at the palace. Gulliver lived in Luggnagg for three months, but decided that, overall, it would be safer to go home to his wife and kids.
The Luggnaggiansare commended. A particular description of the Struldbrugs, with many conversations between the narrator and some eminent persons upon that subject are given here.
Gulliver found Luggnaggians polite and generous; though they were not without pride. He found many acquaintance, and the conversations he had with them were not disagreeable.
One day, the Luggnaggians told Gulliver about certain immortal people, children born with a red spot on their foreheads who were calledStruldbrugs. Gulliver was delighted to find a country where every child had a chance of being born immortal. The person Gulliver was speaking to asked Gulliver what he would do, if he had been born immortal. Gulliver thought of many things he would do if he were immortal, starting with acquiring riches and in course of time becoming the wealthiest man in the kingdom. He would apply himself to the acquisition of knowledge. He would bring about changes in customs, language, fashions of dress, diet, and means of entertainment. He would live generously, yet still on the saving side. He would also take care to instruct young people among the mortals but choose only immortals as his constant companions. He would help those in need. He would see history take shape. He would see great inventions happen. Gulliver counted many such desires. When he finished, the people listening to him laughed. His interpreter then clarified that Struldbrugs were immortal but were not eternally young. They aged at the same rate as other humans, the difference being, that at 80 years old, they were much more miserable than other old people because they had the prospect of living on and on beyond their 80 years. According to the law of the country, as soon as a Struldbrug turned 80, he was dead in terms of the law, so all of his money went to his heirs—he was totally poor. Struldbrug marriages were also dissolved at 80, since
The Luggnaggian King offered Gulliver a job at court, but Gulliver wanted to go home. The king sent him off with a generous gift of gold. Gulliver headed to Japan, where he used a letter of recommendation from the Luggnaggian King to get an audience with the emperor of Japan. The two talked to each other using Dutch. Gulliver told the emperor that he was a Dutch merchant looking for passage to Nangasac, home to a large Dutch settlement in the eighteenth century. The emperor agreed. Gulliver’s trip home was uneventful, and he finally got to see his family after five and a half years.
Part 4 A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms.
While Gulliver was captain of a merchant ship bound for Barbados and the Leeward Islands, several of his crew became ill and died on the voyage. Gulliver hired several replacement sailors in Barbados. These replacements turned out to be pirates who convinced the other crew members to mutiny. As a result, Gulliver was deposited on an island to fend for himself. Almost immediately, he was discovered by a herd of ugly, despicable human-like creatures who he learnt later, were called Yahoos. They attacked him and he was saved from this disgrace by the appearance of a horse, identified, he later learnt, by the name of Houyhnhnm. The grey horse took Gulliver to his home, where he was introduced to the horse’s wife and a colt and a foal, the horse’s children. The horse had a servant—a sorrel nag. Gulliver also saw that the Yahoos were kept in pens away from the house. It became immediately clear that, except for Gulliver’s clothing, he and the Yahoos were the same animal. From this point on, Gulliver and his master, the grey horse, began a series of discussions about the evolution of Yahoos, about topics, concepts, and behaviours related to the Yahoo society, which Gulliver represented, and about the society of the Houyhnhnms.
Despite his favoured treatment in the grey horse’s home, the kingdom’s Assembly determined that Gulliver was a Yahoo and must either live with the uncivilised Yahoos or return to his own world. With great sadness, Gulliver took his leave of the Houyhnhnms. He built a canoe and sailed to a nearby island where he was eventually found hiding by the crew of a Portuguese ship. The ship’s captain took Gulliver to Lisbon, where he lived in the captain’s home. Gulliver was so repelled by the sight and smell of these “civilized Yahoos” that he couldn’t stand to be around them. Eventually, however, Gulliver agreed to return to his family in England. Upon his arrival, he was repelled by his Yahoo family, so he bought two horses and spent most of his days caring for and conversing with the horses in the stable in order to be as far away from his Yahoo family as possible.
The narrator sets out as captain of a ship. His men conspire against him, confine him a long time to his cabin, and set him onshore in an unknown land. He travels up into the country. The Yahoos, a strange sort of animal are described. The narrator meets two Houyhnhnms.
Gulliver stayed home for five months, but, on 7 September 1710, he left his family to set sail again, this time as the captain of a ship called the Adventure. Their job was to trade goods with residents of the South Seas. Many of his sailors died of “calentures,” a fever of the Tropics, so he had to recruit more sailors along the way. His crew members mutinied under the influence of these new sailors and became pirates. They kept Gulliver a prisoner in his own cabin as they sailed around trading with the locals. In May, 1711, one of the sailors came down to Gulliver’s cabin to tell him that they had decided to leave him marooned on an unknown island. On the island, Gulliver saw in the distance, animals with long hair, goat-like beards, and sharp claws, which they used to climb trees. Gulliver decided that these animals were extremely ugly and set forth to find settlers, but he encountered one of the animals on his way.
Gulliver took out his sword and hit the animal with the flat side of it as he didn’t want to damage the animal, for fear that the inhabitants of the island would be angry that he was damaging their livestock. The animal roared loudly, and a herd of others like it attacked Gulliver. Gulliver took refuge in a tree, shaking his sword to keep the animals back. But then he saw them hurrying away. He emerged from his hiding place to see that the beasts had been scared away by a horse. The horse observed Gulliver carefully, and then it neighed in a complicated cadence. Another horse joined the first and the two seemed to be involved in a discussion. Gulliver tried to leave, but one of the horses called him back. What really seemed to surprise the horses was Gulliver’s clothes, which they kept indicating and talking over.
The horses appeared to be so intelligent that Gulliver concluded that they were magicians who had transformed themselves into horses. He addressed them directly and asked to be taken to a house or village. The horses used the words “Yahoo” and “Houyhnhnm,” which Gulliver tried to pronounce. The two horses parted, and one of them (who was grey) indicated that Gulliver should follow him.
Gulliver and the grey horse walked about three miles, to a long, low building. He took out gifts, expecting to meet people. He found instead that there were more horses in the house, sitting down and engaged in various activities. He thought that the house belonged to a person of great importance,
After three months, he could answer most of their questions, and tried to explain that he came from across the sea, but the horses, or Houyhnhnms, did not believe that such a thing was possible. They thought that Gulliver was some kind of Yahoo, though superior to the rest of his species. He asked them to stop using that word to refer to him, and they consented. They were impressed by his intellect and curiosity
Gulliver discovered that, in their language, “Houyhnhnm” meant both horse and “perfection of nature.” Many Houynhnhnms came to see Gulliver, staring in wonder at a Yahoo who seemed to possess reason.
The Houynhnhnms had thought Gulliver was a different kind of Yahoo as they thought his clothes were his skin. But one night, as Gulliver was getting ready for bed, the sorrel nag saw him. He thought that Gulliver changed skins as he slept. Gulliver had been trying to cover up the fact that underneath his clothes, he really was like the other Yahoos, but he realised he could not keep the secret much longer as his clothes and shoes would soon wear out, and would need to be supplied by some contrivance from the hides of Yahoos, or other brutes. So Gulliver explained to Gulliver’s Master Horse that in the country where Gulliver came from, his people always covered their bodies with the hairs of certain animals to avoid the bad weather, both hot and cold. He removed his coat, waistcoat and shirt and Gulliver’s Master Horse was impressed by how different Gulliver was from the other Yahoos, because his skin was pale, soft, and relatively hairless.
Gulliver asked his Master to stop calling him a Yahoo and to keep the secret of his clothes. The Master agreed. He told Gulliver to learn the Houyhnhnm language with utmost diligence so that he could ask Gulliver more questions. Gulliver was finally able to tell Gulliver’s Master Horse that he had arrived at his island in a ship made by men and sailed by men, that he was set ashore thanks to an argument between men. Gulliver’s Master asked how the Houyhnhnms of Gulliver’s country allowed a ship to be sailed by brutes.
Gulliver made his Master promise not to get angry, and then he explained that, in his country, the Houyhnhnms were the brutes and the men were the reasonable beings.
Gulliver and his master continued their discussion of concepts that were difficult for his Master to comprehend—especially those related to lying and doing evil. Gulliver said he had occasion to talk of “lying” and “false representation,” both of which his master had great difficulty understanding. There were no words for “lying” and “doubt” in the Houyhnhnm language. The Houyhnhnm said that lying defeated the very purpose of language, which was to make the speakers understand one another.
Gulliver tried to explain that the Yahoos were the governing creatures where he came from, and the Houyhnhnms asked how their horses were employed. He told Gulliver’s Master Horse about the poor treatment horses often received as work animals in his home country. Gulliver explained that they were used for travelling, racing, and drawing chariots. Gulliver’s Master was utterly disgustedto hear that Yahoos rode Houyhnhnms where Gulliver came from. The Houyhnhnms expressed disbelief that anything as weak as a Yahoo would dare to mount a horse that was so much stronger than it. Though Gulliver’s Master continued to be outraged, he admitted that, if horses in Gulliver’s country were stupid, then it made sense that the Yahoos won out, because reason beat strength every time.
Gulliver’s Master inquired if the Yahoos in Gulliver’s country were more like Gulliver or like the Yahoos of Houyhnhnm Land. When Gulliver answered that they were more like him, Gulliver’s Master actually thought was something of a disadvantage. Sure, they were better-looking than the Yahoos of Houyhnhnm, but they were physically weaker and less suited to survival. It took Gulliver ages to explain to his Master about his own origins, because there were no words in Houyhnhnm language for things like deception, power, wealth, lust, or envy.
Gulliver explained that the horses were trained from a young age to be tame and obedient. He described the state of humanity in Europe and was asked to speak more specifically of his own country.
Over the course of two years, Gulliver described the state of affairs in Europe. Gulliver spoke to his Houyhnhnm master about the English Revolution and the war with France, in which probably about a million Yahoos were killed, perhaps a hundred or more cities taken, and five times as many ships burnt or sunk.
Gulliver was asked to explain the causes of war, and he did his best to provide reasons for war.
He spoke about the ambition of princes who wanted more land or people to rule over. Sometimes corrupt ministers led the country into a war, in order to draw attention away from their evil administration. Gulliver talked at length about the bloody wars fought for “religious reasons”. Likewise, they warred over reasons as trivial as what is the best colour or length for a coat. He tells the Houyhnhnm about colonisation and wars over colonies. Sometimes, a prince quarrelled out of fear of an attack. Wars were fought to dominate a weak neighbour; to subdue a strong one; to plunder a country that had been all but ruined by famine or a natural disaster; to take over a country in order to have its natural riches. The trade of a soldier, maintained Gulliver, was held to be highly prestigious. He talked of mercenary soldiers who fight for money. At times people murdered each other out of jealousy for a government post. An invading prince, Gulliver said, would conquer a country, kill half the population, and enslave the rest, all in the holy name of civilisation.
Gulliver’s Master then told Gulliver that, with all of this warlike nature, it was lucky that humans couldn’t do too much damage to each other because their mouths weren’t designed for easy biting. Gulliver explained the weapons of war and the damage that humans could do to each other. He started describing the horrors of the battlefield when his Master commanded him to silence. He commented that, although his Yahoos were abominable, English Yahoos were far worse because they used their intelligence to magnify, yet excuse, their vices.
The Houyhnhnm then asked Gulliver about England’s legal system. He wondered how laws could be bad or ruin men, when they were designed to save them. Gulliver then explained the legal system in some detail, criticising lawyers severely in the process. He explained how some lawyers were trained from babyhood to defend the wrong side, so they had no sense of justice. What was more, judges often preferred to agree with what appeared obviously untrue, so people with right on their side might only win if they pretended that right was wrong. Gulliver talked about precedent: anything that had been done before may legally be done again. Lawyers liked to split hairs and talked about irrelevant details to distract from the simple facts of all their cases. They had their own private way of speaking, which excluded ordinary people from either understanding or making laws. People in power could decide to convict others accused of crimes against the state because they had influence over the judges. Gulliver’s Master commented that it was a shame that they spent so much time training lawyers to be lawyers and not teaching them to be knowledgeable and wise.
The discussion then turned to money and gold. The Houyhnhnm was unable to understand why human beings lied or injured fellow beings. Gulliver tried to explain the concept of greed and exploitation to his Master. He told him that when a human being had got a great store of money, he was able to purchase whatever he had a mind to; the finest clothing, the most luxurious houses, great tracts of land, and the best food. For this, the rich man enjoyed the fruit of the poor man’s labour, and the latter were a thousand to one in proportion to the former; that the bulk of people were forced to live miserably, by labouring every day for small wages, to make a few live plentifully.
He talked of the absurdities of importing and exporting, sending away necessities such as agricultural products and bringing in luxuries. He claimed that England grew enough food to support its population comfortably, but because they wanted luxury, they had to export what they grew in exchange for things that they didn’t need. A female Yahoo couldn’t get her breakfast without someone having circled the world three times for the tea she drank and the china cup she drank it from. This luxury of rich food led the English to diseases, the likes of which the Houyhnhnms had never seen. Another group of people had arisen to treat these diseases—to profit off them—using fake potions to make people cleanse their insides. This group of people, the doctors, made so much profit on disease that they encouraged people to think that they were sick even when they weren’t.
While discussing political thought, Gulliver accidentally mentioned a minister of state. At that Gulliver’s Master wanted to know what a “Minister of State” was. Gulliver told him that the First Minister of State was someone totally without any emotion besides ambition for money, power and titles. The chief qualifications for the First Minister of State were: to know how to get rid of an inconvenient relative; to undermine his predecessor; to shout endlessly against corruption at court. Gulliver felt a wise prince was one who had corrupt ministers because they were given to flattery and bowed to the will and desire of their master. These ministers kept themselves in power, by bribing the majority of a senate or great council. They made laws to save themselves from being called to account on retiring. And they retired from office rich with the loot they had plundered from the nation.
Chief Ministers of State bribed and intimidated others to follow their orders. And Gulliver’s tirade continued: he told his Master that the nobility in his country were educated to be lazy and ignorant, and that there was frequent mixing of classes that damaged noble blood lines. Despite their total uselessness, they still had authority over all lower-born people in the country.
Impressed by the virtues of the Houyhnhnms, Gulliver decided to tell, freely and truthfully, as much as he could about human beings. Gulliver had started to hate the Yahoos and had come to venerate the Houyhnhnms and hoped to be able to stay among them for the rest of his life. Convinced by “a person of so acute a judgment” as his master, who daily convinced Gulliver of a thousand faults in him that he had not perceived earlier, Gulliver sees in himself flaws that he had never considered infirmities. His master told him that he had considered all of Gulliver’s claims about his home country and had come to the conclusion that Gulliver’s people were not as different from the Yahoos as they might at first have seemed.
Gulliver’s Master reached the conclusion that the European Yahoos had only enough intelligence to make their natural corruption worse and to acquire new ones, which nature had not given them. By clipping their nails, cutting their hair, and generally growing soft, they had also deprived themselves of the natural protection the Yahoos in Houyhnhnm Land had. Even though there were outward differences between Gulliver and the Houyhnhnm Land Yahoos, their essential natures were the same: they hated each other more than other animals did, and fought even without a cause. The Yahoos of Houyhnhnm Land also loved shiny rocks, which none of the Houyhnhnms understood, but which seemed to be a trait common to the whole human species.
Yahoos were the only animals in Houyhnhnm land who fell sick. Gulliver’s Master did admit that European Yahoos had a lot more art than their local Yahoos. Still, their natures seemed essentially identical: for example, Houyhnhnm Land Yahoos also liked to choose a leader, usually the weakest and ugliest of the group. He also noted that Yahoos were unique in having both males and females fighting equally violently with one another. Gulliver’s Master continued that Yahoos loved filth more than most animals. Also, Yahoos sometimes fell into bad moods or thought they were sick for no reason; the only cure for this hypochondria was hard work.
He described all the flaws of the Yahoos, principally detailing their greed and selfishness. He admitted that Gulliver’s humans had different systems of learning, law, government, and art but said that their natures were not different from those of the Yahoos.
Gulliver wanted to observe the similarities between Yahoos and humans for himself, so he asked his Master for permission to observe the Yahoos, which the Master gave as long as Gulliver was always accompanied by a Houyhnhnm guard—the sorrel nag. The Yahoo children were agile, but they smelt bad. The Yahoos were strong but cowardly, stubborn, lying, and deceitful.
By now Gulliver had spent three years in Houyhnhnm Land and was ready to tell the readers a bit more about the Houyhnhnms. The Houyhnhnms did not understand the word “opinion” truly, because they were totally devoted to reason, and one could only have an opinion about something one did not know absolutely. It didn’t make sense to argue over something one couldn’t know. The Houyhnhnms believed that one should respect other people’s ideas without trying to dominate with one’s own. They were equally good to their neighbours and strangers as they valued friendship above all else. They controlled birth of foals to keep Houyhnhnm Land from becoming overpopulated. The Houyhnhnms did not believe in mixing races, so a Houyhnhnm would only marry another Houyhnhnm of the same colour.
The Houyhnhnms applied their rules of reason even to marriage, which was always arranged for a couple by their parents. Houyhnhnm couples were always faithful to each other. The Houyhnhnms believe in equality of education for the sexes, since it was not rational to leave half the species knowing nothing. Children were strictly disciplined, with a restricted grass diet and lots and lots of exercise. The Houyhnhnms had assemblies representing the whole nation every four years, where they checked in to make sure everyone had all the supplies they needed.
The Houyhnhnms held one of their four-year grand assemblies about three months before Gulliver left the Land of the Houyhnhnms. His master attended the Grand Assembly, where the horses went back to an old debate: whether or not to extinguish the Yahoos from the face of the earth. It was argued that they were the most filthy, noisy, and deformed animals which nature ever produced and they had to be watched constantly to keep them from mischief. Also, Yahoos were not native to Houyhnhnm Land. A man and a woman had arrived one day, washed up on the shores of the island. Their numbers had increased to such an extent that the Houyhnhnms, to get rid of this evil, had hunted them down and killed the elders and tamed their children. Their evil nature made all other animals hate them. They had not been exterminated because they were made to work for the Houyhnhnms. It was suggested that Yahoos be replaced by asses as work force.
Gulliver’s Master spoke up and agreed with the speaker that the two original Yahoos came from over the sea, because Gulliver’s Master has found one (Gulliver) who was a much better specimen of the Yahoo kind. Gulliver’s Master told his fellow horses that, in Gulliver’s land, Houyhnhnms were the servants and Yahoos were the rational animals. He also informed them about the human practice of castrating horses to make them less aggressive. He suggested the Houyhnhnms tried that method on young Yahoos of their own country. This way, the Houyhnhnms could make the Yahoos more docile, which meant they wouldn’t need to kill them all. In time this would put an end to the whole species, without destroying life and, in the meantime, Houyhnhnms must breed asses, which, as they are in all respects more useful animals.
This was all Gulliver’s master told him of what passed in the grand council. He hid one fact which related personally to Gulliver and which resulted in misfortune in his life.
Gulliver then described further aspects of the Houyhnhnms’ society. The Houyhnhnmsdidn’t write anything down; they relied on oral records for their history. They also didn’t have much in the way of astronomy, except to measure months and years.
They created excellent poetry about friendship and in praise of their athletes. They had a sound knowledge of medicinal herbs, built simple houses, and usually lived about seventy or seventy-five years, dying of old age, unless they had some kind of accident. They felt no sorrow about death, accepting it as a routine element of life. They had no writing system and no word to express anything evil. All of their words for something bad were connected to Yahoos, so a poorly built house was ynholmhmrohlnw Yahoo, and a stone that cut their feet, ynlhmndwihlma Yahoo.
Gulliver was absolutely content living in the Land of the Houyhnhnms. A room had been made for Gulliver, and he had furnished it well. He also made new clothes for himself and settled into life with the Houyhnhnms quite easily. Gulliver had several friends among the Houyhnhnms. At times his Master allowed him to remain when his friends came. At others, he was taken along when his master went visiting. He began to think of his friends and family back home as Yahoos.
Gulliver’s admiration of the Houyhnhnms led him to imitate their gait and gesture, which had now grown into a habit In fact, he was proud that the Houyhnhnms sometimes said that he trotted like a horse.
However, one morning he was called by his master and told that others had taken offense at his being kept in the house as a Houyhnhnm. They had voted that Gulliver must go away. They worried that such a smart Yahoo might encourage the other Yahoos to rise up and kill the Houyhnhnm’s cattle. Gulliver’s Master had no choice but to ask Gulliver to leave. Gulliver was heartbroken to hear that he was to be banished, so much so that he actual fainted. He built a canoe with the help of the sorrel nag. Gulliver explored the coast with his telescope and found a small island about three and a half miles away that he could reach in his boat. Finally, when the day came for Gulliver to leave, Gulliver’s Master and his whole family came to see him off. Gulliver cried and kissed the hoof of his Master and departed from the island.
It was 15 February 1714. Gulliver’s Master and his family watched Gulliver from the shore until he floated out of sight. The sorrel nag called out to Gulliver to take care of himself. Gulliver hoped to find the island uninhabited, but still with enough resources to support him as he really didn’t want to return to the Yahoos. On the fourth day, he saw people—naked and sitting around a fire. He jumped into his canoe and rowed away. He was struck by a poisoned arrow in his knee, which left a scar.
Gulliver tried to escape the natives’ darts by paddling out to sea. Having nowhere else to go, he returned to another part of that same island. He saw a sail in the distance and thought of going toward it, but then decided he would rather live with the barbarians than the European Yahoos, so he hid from the ship. Coincidentally, the Portuguese ship sent a long boat to the island for water. The seamen discovered him after landing near his hiding place. They questioned him, and Gulliver trembled in fear but spoke to the sailors in their own language. He told them that he was a “poor Yahoo banished from the Houyhnhnms’. The sailors realised he was a European but did not understand what he meant by the terms Yahoos and Houyhnhnms. He spoke with neighing intonations which made the sailors laugh. They could not understand his desire to escape from their ship. He was horrified to be a prisoner of the Yahoos.
Gulliver told the sailors that he was from England. Since the English and the Portuguese were not at war, he hoped they would not be mean to him. The sailors brought Gulliver aboard their ship, which was heading for Lisbon in Portugal. Gulliver met the captain, Don Pedro de Mendez, who wanted to know where Gulliver was from. He was so distressed to be back among the Yahoos that he would not tell the captain that—in fact, he tried to throw himself into the sea to swim away, but he was caught before he could. Don Pedro thought Gulliver was lying at first, as he started talking about Houyhnhnm land. Gulliver was confused as it had been many years since he had heard a lie. Don Pedro made Gulliver promise that he would not try to kill himself on the way home. Gulliver promised, and he also tried not to talk endlessly about how much he hated people now.
Yet the captain of the ship, Pedro de Mendez, was kind. He treated Gulliver hospitably, offering him food, drink, and clothes. They arrived at Lisbon where Pedro de Mendez did all that he could to make Gulliver comfortable. He insisted that Gulliver stay at his own house and borrow some clothes. After ten days in Portugal, Don Pedro told Gulliver that it was 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 agreed, and headed back to his home.
Gulliver was happily received by his family, for they had given him up for dead. But the reunion was a disaster for Gulliver. He was filled with disgust and contempt for them. He could not bear the sight or smell of his Yahoo-like wife and children. It was only after some time that he could bear to eat with them.
In fact, it had been five years since he got back to England, and he could still barely stand to be in their presence. To restore his mind, he bought two horses and conversed with them for four hours each day.
Gulliver claimed that absolutely everything he had written was absolutely true. In fact, he thought it was a disgrace that so many travellers embroidered or exaggerated their published accounts of their trips around the world. Gulliver’s motto was: “Though Fortune has made Sinon wretched, she has not made him untrue and a liar.” In other words, though Gulliver was dejected about having left Houyhnhnm Land, he still refused to lie about any of his experiences. The purpose of writing his memoirs was not to gain fame, but to share the superior example of the Houyhnhnms with the world.
Gulliver was told that it was his duty, as a subject of England, to give an account of his voyages to the secretary of state of England on his return. This would enable England to conquer the lands. But Gulliver feared the conquest of the countries he had visited would not be easy or profitable. The Lilliputians were too small to be worth it, the Brobdingnagians, too large and dangerous, and the Laputians, literally out of reach. While the Houyhnhnms were totally inexperienced with war, the English shouldn’t invade them. The Houyhnhnms were smart, strong, and loved their country. So they would figure out how to defend it quickly enough. In fact, Gulliver wished that the Houyhnhnms would come over and teach all of their virtues to the European Yahoos. A further reason why Gulliver didn’t want the Europeans to conquer the lands he had seen was because they didn’t seem to want to be conquered. Taking their lands against their will would be cruel.
At the end of his tale, Gulliver was sitting in his garden thinking; he was instructing his family as best he could; he was applying the lessons of Houyhnhnm Land to instruct the Yahoos of his own family. He even forced himself to look in a mirror every day to get used to his human face and those of the people around him. He mourned the treatment of Houyhnhnms in England. After five years at home, Gulliver was able to let his wife sit at dinner with him—at the far end of the table, though he still kept his nostrils stuffed with lavender or tobacco so as not to be bothered by the smell. What he really hated was not the bad qualities that Yahoos couldn’t seem to escape. It was the pride they felt in themselves even though they were so disgusting, diseased, and detestable. The Houyhnhnms, who possessed good natures, were not proud, because they were born good, and could not help but be good. They didn’t need to congratulate themselves. The only way that Gulliver would ever be able to sit in the company of an English Yahoo again was if they avoided at least this one sin: the sin of pride.
- Briefly describe Gulliver’s meeting with the King of Laputa?
As Gulliver entered the palace, he saw the king seated on his throne. In front of the king was a large table filled with globes and spheres, and mathematical instruments of all kinds. The king was engrossed in a problem and took no notice ojGulliver even though Gulliver and the others accompanying him made sufficient noise upon entering the court. After an hour the King finally solved the mathematical problem he was working on and it was only then, when he was at leisure, that the flapper gently struck his mouth, and his right ear. Only then did the king take notice ojGulliver. He appeared startled, though he had been informed earlier of their arrival. He spoke some words to Gulliver, whereupon immediately a young man with a flap came up to his side. As Gulliver made a sign that he did not need a flapper, the king and his whole court formed a very poor opinion of his intelligence. The king asked him several questions and though Gulliver spoke many languages the king could neither understand nor be understood. However, he gave Gulliver an apartment in his palace and two servants to attend on him.
- What impression did Gulliver form of Lagado?
Gulliver was shocked when he saw the town of Lagado. The town was quite large—about half the size of London. But the houses were very strangely built, and most of them needed repair. Though the people in the streets appeared to be busy and walked fast, they looked poor, untidy, dishevelled, and miserable. Their eyes were fixed. They were generally in rags. As Gulliver went to the countryside, he saw many labourers working with several sorts of tools on the ground. Gulliver was not able to guess what they were doing. Although the soil appeared to be excellent he did not see any corn or grass growing there. Gulliver was shocked to see such barren land, such badly constructed and poorly maintained houses, and a people whose looks and dress expressed so much misery and poverty.
- Briefly describe the Academy of Lagado. What, generally, does the Academy of Lagado do?
The Royal Academy was located at Lagado, the largest metropolis of Balnibarbi. It was housed not in a single building, but consisted of a continuation of several houses on both sides of a street. These houses which had been lying vacanthad been purchased and converted into an Academy for research and study. Gulliver’s description of the Academy questioned the usefulness of the experiments carried out by the “scientists”. He described all sorts of experiments that sounded ridiculous.- extracting sunbeams out of a cucumber, reducing human excrement to its original food, turning limestone into gunpowder, building houses by starting with the roof, etc. Gulliver visited a class where the students worked on a machine that produced random words. He also met a linguist who was attempting to get rid of all aspects of speech excluding nouns, and a math professor who had his students eat wafers with mathematical equations written on them.
- What lesson do you learn from Gulliver’s meetings with the historical ghosts?
Gulliver’s meetings with the historical ghosts tell us that:
(a) Some of the facts we read about heroes may not be true. Gulliver finds out that several famous stories about Alexander and Hannibal are not true. Alexander didn’t die froma fever, he reveals. He died from drinking too much. And Hannibal never broke any rocks blocking him from the Alps using vinegar. This introduces one of the key themes of this section of the novel: that history itself is a pack of lies.
(b) We also learn that Gulliver really admires men who kill or assassinate severe, exploitative leaders in the name of freedom. He feels that Brutus’s assassination 0/ Julius Caesar was justified.
- What do the Houyhnhnms find amazing about Gulliver?
The Houyhnhnms were amazed that Gulliver, who they thought must be a Yahoo, was teachable, civil, and dean. These qualities were altogether opposite to the qualities possessed by the Yahoo’s. The Houyhnhnms, who came to see him or talk with him, could hardly believe him to be a Yahoo, because his body had a different covering from the others 0/ his kind. They were astonished to observe him without the usual hair or skin, except on his head, face, and hands. They were perplexed about his clothes, and wondered whether they were a part 0/ his body, for Gulliver never took them off till the family were asleep, and got them on before they woke in the morning.
- Do you think that Swift meant the country of the Houyhnhnms to represent an idealsociety?
The Houyhnhnms live simple lives wholly devoted to reason. They have created a society in which there is no crime, no poverty, no disagreement, and no unhappiness. They speak clearly, they act justly, and they have simple laws. They are untroubled by greed, politics, or lust. They live a life of cleanliness and exist in peace and serenity. They live by the grand maxim.- Cultivate Reason and be totally governed by it. So perfect is their society in fact, that they have no concept of lies, and therefore no words to express it.
On the other hand, there is neither joy or passion, nor love. The author by making Gulliver, a being, closer in physique to a Yahoo, but one who acts like a Houyhnhnm, it is difficult to continue to sympathize with Gulliver and to look through his eyes at the society he visits. This is because he is increasingly hostile to, and isolated from, his fellow humans. His rejection of Don Pedro – who is kind and courteous to him, and, later, of his family, makes him appear mean-minded and unbalanced. His preference for talking to his horses over his family appears to be a kind of madness.
- What view of humanity is presented by comparisons between humans and Yahoos?
Gulliver, as a fundamentally decent man, dissociates himself from the Yahoos. However, the Houyhnhnm master’s descriptions of the Yahoos and Gulliver’s own observations confirm that the Yahoos’ behaviour is identical to that of human beings at their worst. For example, they are greedy, so that one Yahoo will keep for himself enoughfood to feedfifty. They have an inordinate fondness for shiny stones, which they hoard secretly in their kennels, and which are the focus of many fights between Yahoos. This is a reference to human avarice. The Yahoos eat to excess so that they are prone to diseases, just as humans are.
Sometimes, a distinction is drawn between humans and Yahoos. Gulliver’s Houyhnhnm master, in spite of his poor view of the Yahoos, notes that Gulliver falls short of them in respect of physical agility. He also points out that while he does not blame the Yahoos for their despicable behaviour, since they are not endowed with reason, when man, a creature who claims to be an intelligent being, commits crimes, he is worse than a beast. Instead of using reason to choose virtue, as the Houyhnhnms do, man uses reason to enlarge his vices.
- Who attacked Gulliver and his companions? How did Gulliver escape?
Gulliver and his companions set out from Tonquin captain to trade with neighbouring islands. On the tenth day they were attacked by two groups of pirates. Gulliver realised that one of the pirates was a Dutchman. Gulliver, who spoke Dutch well, begged him for consideration as they were Christians and Protestants. Gulliver’s pleas, however, angered the Dutchman. It was the captain of the larger of two pirate ships, a Japanese, who spoke to Gulliver and decreed that the sailors should not be killed. Gulliver reprimanded the Dutchman saying that a Japanese (pagan) had more mercy than Christian. This remark in/lamed the Dutchman and he wanted Gulliver thrown into the sea. This was a matter on which the captains of both ships disagreed. They divided the rest 0/ the crew amongst themselves and set Gulliver adrift in a small canoe, with paddles and a sail, and Jour days’ provisions.
- How do the Laputian people differ from those in most countries?
The Laputians are peculiar in their habits, and countenances. As they walk, they keep their heads tilted to right, or left. Their eyes never focus on the world around them as one of their eyes is turned inward, and the other directly up to zenith. Their garments adorned with the figures of suns, moons, and stars; interwoven with those of fiddles, flutes, harps, trumpets, guitars, harpsichords, and other instruments of music. They are forgetful and lose interest in the happenings around them as while thinking. So they have servants following them carrying a blown bladder, fastened like a flail to the end of a stick and filled with small quantity of dried peas, or little pebbles. With this they flap the mouths and ears of those who stand near them to rouse them and remind them they have to speak or listen. They give a soft flap on eyes if they are wrapped in cogitation.
- Bring out the irony in the behaviour and learning of the Laputians.
Though the Laputians have a good theoretical knowledge and are dexterous enough on a piece of paper, yet in the common actions and behaviour of life, they are clumsy, awkward, and unhandy people. They may be dextrous in use of the rule, the pencil, and the divider, but were slow and perplexed in their conceptions upon all other subjects, except those of mathematics and music. While they were engrossed in mathematics, they had poorly designed houses with no right angles. They were fond of music but what they played sounded like noise to Gulliver. The Laputians engaged in the astronomy and had great faith injudicial astrology, but did not own it publicly.
- What made the island of Laputa fly?
At the centreof the island of Laputa was a deep canyon, called FlandonaGagnole, or the astronomer’s cave. This contained all their astronomical instruments and a giant magnet six yards long, in the middle of it. The island was raised, lowered and moved from one place to another at the King’s astronomers at his orders with its magnetic force. At one end the magnet had the power of attraction, and at the other the power of repulsion. These two charges could be reversed by means ofan attached control. The magnet was sustained by a strong axle upon which it played, and was poised so exactly that the weakest hand could turn it. It could not be removedfrom its place by any force, because the hoop and its feet were one continued piece with the bottom of the island. of course, the movement of Laputa had limits.- it couldn’t go beyond king’s own dominions, or islands he controlled at sea level; neither could it rise higher than four miles above the Earth.
- What methods of appointing politicians as suggested by professor, Gulliver feels are “wholly
out of their senses”? Bring out the irony.
At the Academy Gulliver met some professors who were studying issues of government. He sarcastically re/erred to them as being “wholly out 0/ their senses”. They proposed that monarchs should choose favourites based on their wisdom, capacity, and virtue. They wanted to teach ministers to look for the public good. These professors proposed that merit, great abilities, eminent services should be rewarded. They suggested that princes be instructed to know their true interest, by placing it on the same foundation with that 0/their people. Another of their wild schemes was to choose for employments persons qualified to exercise them. Gulliver sarcastically refers to these scientists as being “wholly out of their senses” and their schemes “wild” as what they proposed was not fanciful or outlandish but sensible and down-to-earth, unlike schemes suggested by the other professors.
- Briefly describe Gulliver’s arrival at and his interaction with the king of Luggnag?
At the court of Luggnag Gulliver was commanded to crawl upon his belly, and lick the floor as he advanced; but, on account of his being a stranger, care was taken to have it made so clean, that the dust was not offensive. When he had crept within/our yards of the throne, Gulliver raised himself gently upon his knees, and then striking his forehead seven times against the ground, he pronounced the words, as they had been taught to him. The king was much delighted with my company, and ordered his BLIFFMARKLUB, or high-chamberlain, to appoint a lodging in the court for him and his interpreter; with a daily allowance for his table, and a large purse of gold for his common expenses. He stayed three months in this country.
- How does Gulliver’s Master Houyhnhnm respond when Gulliver tries to explain he comes
from another country and that he sailed to the island in a boat built by humans?
Gulliver tries to explain to his Master Horse that he had arrived at his island in a ship made and sailed by men, that he was set ashore thanks to an argument between men. Gulliver’s Master told Gulliver that he did not believe there could be a country beyond the sea, or that a parcel of brutes could move a wooden vessel wherever they pleased upon water. But what he found even more amazing was that he was sure there wasn’t a Houyhnhnm alive who could make such a vessel, and neither was there one who would trust Yahoos to manage it. After making his Master promise not to get angry, Gulliver explained that in his country, the Houyhnhnms were the brutes and the men were the reasonable beings. He added that if he told his countrymen, they would hardly think it probable that anywhere on earth a Houyhnhnm was the presiding creature of a nation, and a Yahoo the brute. Gulliver’s Master Houyhnhnm is unable to understand how horses despite being larger and stronger, could be compelled to serve humans.
- What are the Houyhnhnms customs for the ten days before an elderly Houyhnhnm is about to die and what are the customs for a funeral?
Some weeks be/ore their death, the Houyhnhnms/eel a gradual decay or a weakening but without pain. During this time many of their friends come and visit them, because they cannot go out visiting other people with their usual ease and satisfaction. The Houyhnhnms are invariably able to figure out that they are about to die. As a result, about ten days be/ore their death, they start returning the visits that have been made them by those who are nearest in the neighbourhood and take solemn leave of their friends. They behave as if they were going to some remote part of the country, where they are designed to pass the rest of their lives. Their friends and relations express neither joy nor grief at their departure; nor does the dying person express the least regret that he is leaving the world any more than if he were upon returning home from a visit to one of his neighbours.
- Describe Gulliver’s meeting with the sailors? How does Gulliver react to their offer to take him back to Europe?
While he was escaping from the natives, Gulliver spied a ship on the horizon. Gulliver’s hatred of the Yahoos made him decide to go back to the island rather than be rescued by European Yahoos. He hid on the island but, unfortunately, the ship’s sailors came ashore on the island for water and found Gulliver. They spoke to him in Portuguese, asking him who he was. He replied in the same language, telling them that he was a “poor Yahoo banished from the Houyhnhnms”. Gulliver told them that he was from England. He spoke with neighing intonations which made the sailors laugh. The sailors took Gulliver aboard their ship, where he met the captain, Don Pedro de Mendez. Gulliver was unhappy to be back among the Yahoos and he tried to throw himself into the sea to swim away, but was caught before he could. Don Pedro made Gulliver promise that he would not try to kill himself on the way home. Gulliver promised reluctantly.
- Why did Gulliver agree to go on board the Hopewell?
After Gulliver returned from Brobdingnag, his wife did not want him to go to sea anymore. He, too, agreed to stay at home. However, ten days later Captain William Robinson, his friend came to meet him. Gulliver had worked with him earlier and the two were not just close friends, they were more like brothers. Captain Robinson invited Gulliver to accompany him on a voyage to East Indies. They were to leave in two months. He promised Gulliver that he would appoint another surgeon to work under him and, so, Gulliver would have not much work. He also offered a salary that would be double the usual pay. Robinson offered Gulliver a share in
- How did Gulliver get to Laputa?
Gulliver picked up a job on a ship sailing for East Indies. When they reached Tonquin, the captain wanting to stay there for a Jew days to make some purchases decided to send Fourteenofhis crew under the leadership of Gulliver to trade with some islands. On sea, a storm drove them off course. To add to this, two boats of pirates attacked and captured Gulliver and his crew. A Dutch pirate, annoyed with Gulliver, sent him out to sea in a small boat with only four days’ worth offood. Luckily, Gulliver reached an island. There he saw a landmass dropping down from the sky. The landmass was crawling with people. On closer look it appeared to be a floating island. Gulliver shouted up to its inhabitants. They lowered the island and sent down a chain by which he was drawn up.
- Explain the Laputian Tailor’s method of measuring Gulliver for a suit of clothes. Why didn’t
this work well?
The tailor who was to stitch Gulliver’s clothes did not take measurements in the normal way. He took measurement of clothes differently. He took Gulliver’s altitude by a quadrant, and then, with a rule and compasses, described the dimensions and outlines of whole body, which were entered upon paper. When he returned with the clothes that he had stitched, they were ill made, and quite out of shape, as the tailor had made a mistake in calculation. However, it didn’t matter because others were similarly dressed.
- What did the Laputians talk of? Why did Gulliver find this strange?
The Laputians, when they met, discussed news and politics. Gulliver found their inclination towards news and politics, inquiries into public affairs, and giving of judgments in matters of state, and they way they disputed party opinions baffling. ; But he took this quality to arise from a very common infirmity of human nature, inclining us to be most curious and conceited in matters where we have least concern, and for which we are least adapted by study or nature. The Laputiansfeared changes in heavenly bodies.- and the movement of the earth and the sun. These fears that kept them awake at nights and whenever they met, they discussed their fears. When the Laputians met an acquaintance they inquired about the sun’s health. Gulliver likens their conversation to that of boys who like to hear terrible stories of spirits and hobgoblins but which cause them fear.
- What have Laputian astronomers discovered? How do their discoveries surpass those of the
The Laputian astronomers had progressed far beyond the information in possession of the English. They had very powerful telescopes that could magnify much more than those of a hundred English ones, and show the stars with greater clearness though their largest telescopes did not exceed three feet. As a result, they had catalogued ten thousand fixed stars, whereas the English catalogues contained information about less than a third of that number. They had discovered two lesser stars, or satellites, which revolve around Mars. They had calculated their distances from Mars and the time taken by them to revolve around the plane accurately. In addition they had observed ninety-three different comets, and calculated their times and paths with great exactness.
- How were rebels successful in one case against the king of Laputa?
The residents of Lindalino the second City in the Kingdom had often complained to the king of great oppression by their governor but their complaints were in vain. The people united and shut the Town Gates, seized the Governor, and erected four large towers, one at every corner of the city equal in height to a strong pointed rock that stood directly in the centre of the city. A large magnet was fixed upon the top of each tower and rock. The townspeople had stored provisions and they would not be short of water as a river ran through the town. When the king heard of these preparations by Lindalinians eight months later, he commanded that the island should be floated over city. The island hovered over them several days depriving them of the sun and the rain. They were pelted with great stones but the citizens hid in the four towers, and other strong buildings, and underground vaults. When the king lowered the island within forty yards of the top of the towers and rock, the magnets fixed on the towers pulled island down at a great speed and damaged the base. The king was forced to give in to the Lindalinians.
TYPE 16 QUESTIONS FOR SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT 2
- Write a brief note on the Laputians.
The Laputiansare a race of strange people. Their heads are always leaning to right or left and their eyes do not focus on the world around them. One of their eyes is tamed inward, and other looks up to the zenith. The live on a floating island, controlled by a central magnet. They have only two interests.- mathematics and music, and are very far advanced in these. However, they are impractical as they cannot build houses with right angles, and they cannot sew clothes that fit. The reason is that they do not take measurements from real life, preferring instead to use equations to prove what has to be true. However, though Laputafloats above, the Laputians continue to have political connections to Balnibarbi, the continent below it as many of the King’s ministers have estates on the continent. The king maintains a strict tribute policy,- if people do not send in tribute, he orders his astronomers to float the island right above them, blocking sun and rain and causing further trouble by dropping stones on them.
- Write a brief note on the king of Luggnag.
The Luggnaggian King’s behaviour is yet another example of the kind of random cruelty too much power inspires in a person. Anyone appearing before him must say, “May your celestial majesty outlive the sun, eleven moons and a half”. This is an example of flattery the king expects as his due.
In his megalomania, the King makes Gulliver kneel in front of him and lick the ground in front of his feet. This in fact is a common practice in this kingdom. At times the ground is dusty and his subjects stand before him with their mouths full of dust, trying not to cough because coughing in front of the King is against the law and could get them executed.
Sometimes, the King assassinates people he does not like by sprinkling the ground in front of his feet with poison. What’s more, accidents have happened in the past where the poison hasn’t been properly cleaned up and people have died. The King has been sorry about this and got the pageboy, who neglected to give orders for cleaning the floor, whipped. Though he is merciful enough to forgive the pageboy when he apologises, he is not sorry enough to stop his method of execution.
- What does Gulliver tell his master about the Houyhnhnms in his country? What is his reaction
Gulliver told his master that the Yahoos were the only governing animals in his country, and though they had Houyhnhnms among them. They were employed in travelling, racing, or drawing chariots. Although they were treated with much kindness and care, if they got injured or diseased they were sold, and forced into drudgery if they died. After they died, their skins were stripped, and sold, and their bodies were left to be eaten by dogs and birds of prey. Horses kept by farmers and carriers, and other mean people, had to work harder and were fedpoorly. Men also used bridles, saddles, spurs, and whips on horses. Horses had plates of a certain hard substance of iron, below their hooves, to save their hooves from being broken by the stones over which humans made them ride. This angered Gulliver’s Master. He wondered how human beings dared to ride upon a Houyhnhnm’s back as the Houyhnhnms were physically much stronger.
- How does Gulliver characterize doctors, lawyers and the ministers of state in speaking to his
Gulliver refers to doctors as “another sort ofpeople, who get their livelihood by attending the sick.” They make a profit from those who are sick. They give Jake potions to make people cleanse their insides. This group of people, the doctors, make so much profit on diseases that they encourage people to think that they were sick even when they aren’t. Physicians have given several names to these diseases that exist only in the sufferer’s imagination. They have invented imaginary cures for these diseases and so/or the drugs that are proper/or them.
Gulliver criticises lawyers severely as well. He explains how lawyers are trainedfrom babyhood to defend the wrong side, so they have no sense o/justice. He demonstrates this with the example of a neighbour stealing his cow. Lawyers like to split hairs and talk about irrelevant details to distract people from the simple/acts o/all their cases. In pleading, they studiously avoid entering into the merits of the cause; but are loud, violent, and tedious, in dwelling upon all circumstances whichare irrelevant. They have their own private way of speaking, which excludes ordinary people from either understanding or making laws.
According to Gulliver ministers are people who are totally without any emotion besides ambition for money, power and titles. These ministers put their words to all uses, except for speaking their mind. They never let others know what is on their mind. The only time they tell the truth is when they intend the others to take it for a lie, and they lie, with the aim of it being taken as the truth. Their essential skills include the ability to get rid of an inconvenient relative; to undermine their predecessors and to shout endlessly against corruption at court.
- Give an analysis of the Houyhnhnms and their culture.
Gulliver describes the Houyhnhnms as a noble race who are virtuous by nature. They have no conception of evil. They are rational beings and their motto is to cultivate reason, and to be wholly governed by it. Reason is indisputable for the Houyhnhnms and it is not tainted by passion and interest. As a result there are no controversies, wrangling or disputes among the Houyhnhnms. Friendship and benevolence are the two principal virtues among the Houyhnhnms; and these are not confined to particular objects, but universal to the whole race; for a stranger from the remotest part is treated as an equal to the nearest neighbour, and is made to feel at home. They preserve decency and civility in the highest degrees, but are altogether ignorant of ceremony. They have no fondness for their colts or foals, but take good care of their education. To keep their population under control, the Houyhnhnms have one foal of each sex. But the race of inferior Houyhnhnms, bred up to be servants, is allowed to produce three of each sex, to serve in the noble families. The Houyhnhnm society is based on rigid segregation 0/ breeds and species. To preserve the race from degenerating Houyhnhnms marry according to the colour of the coat. Marriages of the Houyhnhnms are arranged by parents and they get married.
- Write a brief note on Captain Mendez.
Don Pedro de Mendez was the Portuguese captain who found Gulliver on his island and encouraged him to return to England. He is extremely gentle, generous, and patient with Gulliver. He prevented Gulliver/rom killing himself in despair and listened to him rant about the selfishness and depravity of human beings. He was immediately sensitive to the fact that Gulliver was traumatised, and he suffered Gulliver’s insults quietly. Not only did he take Gulliver back to Europe, he made sure he got special food, clothing, and quarters. Don Pedro convinced Gulliver that it would be dishonourablefor him not to return to his wife and children. He paid his fare from Amsterdam to England. Swift’s creation of the character Pedro de Mendez is an indication that he did not believe Yahoos, or human beings, were selfish and loathsome.
- What a brief note on the Houyhnhnm way of upbringing and education for the young?
The young ones are brought up on a strict diet and are not allowed to eat oats, except upon certain days, till they are eighteen years old. They are rarely givenmilk. \n summer they graze two hours in the morning, and two hours in the evening; but the servant foals are allowed to graze for anhoar at each time. A great part of their grass is brought home, which they eat at the most convenient hours, when they can be spared from work. The young ones of both sexes are trainedin self-control, diligence, exercise, and cleanliness. The Houyhnhnmshave an admirable system of educating the youth of both sexes. The youth are trained to strength, speed, and hardiness, by exercising them in running races up and down steep hills, and over hard stony grounds; and when they are all in a sweat, they are ordered to leap into a pond or river. Four times a year the youth of a certain district meet to show their proficiency in running and leaping, and other feats of strength and agility; where the victor is rewarded with a song in his or her praise
- What kind of place is it? Who rules over it? What strange powers does he have?
Glubbdubdrib is an island of sorcerers or magicians. It is about one third as large as the Isle of Wight, and extremely fruitful: it is governed by the head of a certain tribe, who are all magicians. The eldest in succession becomes prince or governor. The governor lives in a noble palace, which has a park of about three thousand acres, surrounded by a wall of hewn stone twenty feet high. In this park are several small enclosures for cattle, corn, and gardening. The governor was skilled in necromancy or a form of magic involving communication with the deceased – either by summoning their spirit or raising them bodily. He had the power of calling whom he pleased from the dead, and commanding their service for twenty-four hours. Also, he could not call the same persons up again in less than three months, except upon very extraordinary occasions. When he saw the servants in the palace, he noticed the guards were dressed in a very strange manner, and with something in their appearance made Gulliver’s flesh creep with horror. The attendants appeared and disappeared. Gulliver was apprehensive, but the governor reassured him saying that he would receive no hurt.
- What kind of place is Glubbdubdrib? Who rules over it? What strange powers does he have?
Glubbdubdrib is an island of sorcerers or magicians. It is about one third as large as the Isle of Wight, and extremely fruitful: it is governed by the head of a certain tribe, who are all magicians. The eldest in succession becomes prince or governor. The governor lives in a noble palace, which has a park of about three thousand acres, surrounded by a wall of hewn stone twenty feet high. In this park are several small enclosures for cattle, corn, and gardening. The governor was skilled in necromancy or a form of magic involving communication with the deceased—either by summoning their spirit or raising them bodily. He had the power ofcalling whom he pleased from the dead, and commanding their service for twenty-Jour hours. Also, he could not call the same persons up again in less than three months, except upon very extraordinary occasions. When he saw the servants in the palace, he noticed the guards were dressed in a very strange manner, and with something in their appearance made Gulliver’s flesh creep with horror. The attendants appeared and disappeared. Gulliver was apprehensive, but the governor reassured him saying that he would receive no hurt.
- Who are the Struldbrugs?
They Struldbrugs age at the same rate as other humans, the difference being, that at 80 years old, they were much more miserable than other old people because they had the prospect of living on and on beyond their 80 years. According to the law ofthe country, as soon as a struldbrug turned 80, he was dead in terms of the law, so all of his money went to his heirs—he was totally poor. Struldbrug marriages were also dissolved at 80, since they would make the couple so much unhappy. At 90, they started losing their teeth, so they didn’t enjoy eating anymore. Their memories got bad and they couldn’t read without forgetting by the end o/a sentence, how it began. Because language evolved with time, older Struldbrugscouldn’t understand younger people at all. They had to beg for money, since otherwise, they had to get by on a tiny state allowance. Gulliver met some Struldbrugs and found them to be unhappy and unpleasant, and he regretted ever wishing for their state.
- 1 What misconception did Gulliver have about them?
Gulliver mistakenly felt that being immortal gave a person many advantages. Gulliver thought of many things he wished for a whole system of what he would do if he were immortal, starting with the acquisition of riches and in course of time becoming the wealthiest man in the kingdom. He would apply himself to the acquisition of knowledge. He would bring about changes in customs, language, fashions of dress, diet, and means of entertainment. He would live generously, yet still on the saving side. He would also take care to instruct young people among the mortals but choose only immortals as his constant companions. He would help those in need. He would see history take shape. He would see great inventions happen. Gulliver counted many such desires.
- What type of animal frightens away the horrible creatures that attack Gulliver in the fields?
Write a brief note on this animal and his family.
Gulliver is attacked by the ugly deformed Yahoos. He is rescued by another resident of the island.- a kind, gentle looking grey horse who seems to frighten these gross animals away. Unlike the Yahoos, the horse has a very mild aspect, newer offering the least violence. When Gulliver reaches out to stroke its neck, it disdain fully shakes his head, and softly raises its right forefoot to remove his hand. The horse seems fascinated by Gulliver, and his clothing. The horse neighed in a complicated cadence. Another horse joined the first and the two seemed to be involved in a discussion. They appeared to be so intelligent that Gulliver concluded they were magicians who had transformed themselves into horses. They used the words “Yahoo” and “Houyhnhnm,” which Gulliver tried to pronounce. The two horses parted, and the grey horse took Gulliver along with him
- Write a brief account of Gulliver and the Yahoo child.
One day Gulliver happened to catch a three years old Yahoo male. Gulliver tried with all signs of tenderness to make it quiet. But the child started crying, and scratching, and biting with, such violence, that Gulliver was forced to let it go. The child ran away as soon as Gulliver put it down. By that time, a large group of Yahoos arrived. They had heard and had come to investigate. Seeing that Gulliver was accompanied by the sorrel nag and that the child was safe, they did not dare to come close to Gulliver. While he held the child, Gulliver found the young child was very foul smelling. This was probably the smell of its excrement.
- What does Gulliver ultimately come to believe about the relative virtues of humans and Houhyhmhms?
Gulliver was so impressed by the virtues of the Houyhnhnms, that he had started to hate his own species. Gulliver’s love and veneration for the horses is evident when he describes them as being orderly and rational, acute and judicious.” They speak clearly, act justly, and have simple laws. Each Houyhnhnm knows what is right and acts accordingly. They are untroubled by greed, politics, or lust. They live a life of cleanliness and exist in peace and serenity. In fact, they have no concept of lies, and therefore no word to express it.
On the other hand are the humans. They give a great importance to money. Gulliver finds them greedy and exploitative. Human beings lie to each other. They beg, rob, steal, cheat, and tell lies. They fight wars and kill fellow beings.
Gulliver is the most important character in this novel. He’s the “author” of the Travels, the tour guide. In fact, he narrates the novel himself, and he is the only genuinely developed character in the whole book. Other figures in Gulliver’s Travels absolutely fade into the background. For example, Gulliver only mentions his wife, Mary, in the passing. There is not much interaction between him and his family or crew.
Gulliver is the son of a middle-class family in Nottinghamshire, England. He has studied medicine both in England and at the University of Leiden in Holland. Gulliver has served as an apprentice under a master surgeon, Mr James Bates. Although, Gulliver isn’t a nobleman, he is intelligent. Also, he is interested in people-watching (“My hours of leisure I spent […] in observing the manners and dispositions of the people”.
Gulliver is also, as might be expected, “gullible.” He believes what he is told. For example, he misses the obvious ways in which the Lilliputians exploit him. When the Houyhnhnms tell him he is a Yahoo, he becomes a self-hating, self-proclaimed Yahoo.
Gulliver’s common sense and practical nature save his life over and over again. He’s not too proud to lick the floor in front of the Luggnaggian King or to suck up pretty outrageously to the Queen of Brobdingnag. Gulliver is the central character of Gulliver’s Travels, but there’s nothing outsized or heroic about him. He is an ordinary man, maybe more resourceful than many, but not too brave or powerful.
What seems most lacking in Gulliver is not courage or feelings, but drive. Gulliver’s goal on his sea voyage is uncertain. He says that he needs to make some money after the failure of his business, but the rarely mentions finances throughout the book and indeed almost never even mentions home. He has no awareness of any greatness in what he is doing or what he is working towards. In short, he has no aspirations.
We may also note Gulliver’s lack of ingenuity. Gulliver seems too dull for any battles of wit and too unimaginative to think up tricks, and thus he ends up being passive in most of the situations in which he finds himself. He is held captive several times throughout his voyages, but he is never once released through his own stratagems, relying instead on chance factors for his liberation. Once presented with a way out, he works hard to escape, as when he repairs the boat he finds that delivers him from Blefuscu, but he is never actively ingenious in attaining freedom.
Might Versus Right
Gulliver’s Travels implicitly poses the question of whether physical power or moral righteousness should be the governing factor in social life. Gulliver experiences the advantages of physical strength both as one who has it—as a giant in Lilliput where he can defeat the Blefuscudian navy by virtue of his immense size—and as one who does not have it—as a miniature visitor to Brobdingnag where he is harassed by the hugeness of everything from insects to household pets. He is physically tied down by the Lilliputians; he is enslaved by a farmer in Brobdingnag. He talks of use of physical force against others, as with ‘the Houyhnhnms’ chaining up of the Yahoos.
Alongside the use of physical force, there are also many claims to power based on moral correctness. Though the users justify the use of physical force, the readers at times find it hard to accept. The use of physical force against the Yahoos is justified for the Houyhnhnms by their sense of moral superiority: they are cleaner, better behaved, and more rational. Gulliver’s Travels does show evidence of moral alternatives to replace the corruption Swift sees in contemporary English society. Swift is resolutely anti-war; he also appears to despise luxury and greed. But the thing that most seems to guarantee a virtuous society for him is “friendship and benevolence”. He mentions that the Brobdingnagians have a remarkably disciplined army because all of the soldiers are fighting under leaders they know from their hometowns. This kind of personal loyalty inspires men to more genuine, direct heroism and justice than abstract fights for a cause.
Society and Class
Gulliver is a snob who loves moving among what he calls “people of quality,” and he believes that there should be a clear distinctions maintained between servant and noble families. At the same time, Gulliver is, himself, middle class and enjoys a certain degree of social mobility as a result of it. While Gulliver does approve of class distinctions on principle, he also appears to be disgusted enough with society that he finds the noble men with their wealth and power greedy, malicious, hypocritical, and grasping. People like Lord Munodi, who comes of an ancient family is the one sensible man in all of Laputa but is out of favour with the Laputian King, and the scheming, conspiring Flimnap, is powerful and in favour in Lilliput.
Gulliver does not approve of politics, at least, as they are practiced in contemporary times: court intrigue is what gets him driven out of Lilliput. He also remarks that the passion the Laputians have for discussing politics is inversely related to how much they actual know about it—a common failing. It is one thing to think carefully about what it means to have good government, as the Brobdingnagian king does. It’s something else again to use politics and government as a way of getting jobs for your friends (the Lilliputian emperor), forcing your subjects to flatter and obey you (the Luggnaggian king), or exploiting the lands around you for money (the Laputian king).
As Gulliver sails around the world, to see the peoples and cultures around the world, he finds that everywhere he goes, familiar political problems emerge. In Lilliput, he encounters petty partisanship and resentment. In Brobdingnag, he is forced to account for the poor moral value of English government. And in Laputa, he witnesses the exploitation of lands and colonies for money. The Brobdingnagians may be a better kind of Yahoo, but the only one different is the Houyhnhnm Master Horse.
Both the Lilliputians and Gulliver are pretty good with mechanics and engineering, the Brobdingnagiansemphasise practical scientific education, and the Laputiansfavour mathematics and music over all other subjects. What really seems to matter to Gulliver is how that science is applied. He doesn’t think much of knowledge for its own sake or excessively abstract speculation. After all, as his time in Laputa teaches us, what’s the point of a mathematical equation for tailoring if the suit that comes out of it fits wrong and looks bad.
Lies and Deceit
We see Gulliver lying all the time although he claims that he is “chiefly studious of truth”. He tells the Japanese emperor that he is a Dutchman. He attempts to prevent the Houyhnhnms from discovering that his clothes are not part of his skin. This ability of language to deceive other people is something that comes up a lot in this book: Gulliver tells the Master Horse that the purpose of lawyers is to confuse and distract people from the truth by using special lawyer-talk. And Gulliver finally discovers the Houyhnhnms have no word for lying—the closest they come to it is “the thing which is not”—because the virtuous purpose of communication is to speak one’s own thoughts. The Houyhnhnms find lying to go against reason.
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