By Johannes Helmold
Gulliver’s Travels is a beloved novel by Irish writer Jonathan Swift, published in 1726. The popularity of this volume lies mostly in its hilarious satire and commentary on human nature. It is still enjoyed by old and young, and thus it would be a fine idea to explore its plot.
The book starts with focusing on its main character: married surgeon Lemuel Gulliver from England. He has a penchant for traveling, and this time, he goes to the South Seas. Unfortunately, he gets caught in a big storm and arrives on an unknown island by being washed ashore. Unbeknownst to him, the island is named Lilliput, and it is inhabited by super small people not more than six inches tall. As Gulliver sleeps after arriving on the Island, these tiny humans chain him up and and drag him to a temple outside their city walls.
Gulliver is a smart man, and finds a way to be in the favor of the king of Lilliput. He starts learning their language and is introduced to their customs. After a while, the king asks Gulliver to help fight a war with another group of tiny people named the Blefuscu. Due to his size, the protagonist captures the entire navy of the enemy.
However, after some time, two people in the Lilliput kingdom become jealous of Gulliver: admiral Skyresh Bolgolam and treasurer Flimnap. They do their best to impeach him and to also give a punishment of being blinded. However, Gulliver learns of this conspiracy from a person in the court and escapes. He finds a human-sized boat washed ashore nearby and goes to Australia first before locating a ship to take him back to England.
After staying in England for a bit with his family—which he does not get along with—he sets out again. Another storm spins him out of control and he lands on the remote island of Brobdingnag, where people are around 60 feet tall. Gulliver is found and treated by the people there like an attraction, and he eventually comes into the presence of the queen of the island. She claims him as a pet, and a young girl named Glumdalclitch takes care of Gulliver and teaches him their language.
His stay there is not comfortable though: animals frighten him and almost kill him, such as bees, dogs, monkeys, and more. He also starts to feel that his self-esteem has been diminished—especially after having been so powerful on Lilliput. After many talks with the king of the land, the royal concludes that English people act like pests, and this lowers Gulliver’s pride again. In fact, the king refuses a gift of gunpowder from the protagonist, as the king is convinced that such violence is barbaric.
On a trip to the seaside with the royalty, the box that contains him is picked up by an eagle and it drops him in the sea. A ship picks him up, and he eventually returns to England. He stays about two months in England before he gets the travel itch again. Tragedy strikes again, and pirates capture him near Vietnam. However, as he sits on an island, the floating island of Laputa hovers above him. Gulliver makes signals to the Laputians, and they rescue him.
These people are normal-sized, but love only music and mathematics. They are not good at doing practical things, like making clothes. Gulliver also visits the island of Glubbdubdrib, populated by sorcerers that allow people to meet ghosts of famous people. In addition, he hops over to Luggnagg, where people are immortal and the king has absolute power. He decides after visiting this island that he had had enough for now, and goes back to England after visiting Japan.
This time around, he stays in home country for five months. He decides to become a captain of a ship, and sets out on another exploration. However, his crew commits mutiny against him in the process, and he washes ashore on another strange island. The land is occupied by two types of beings: the Yahoos are humans that have not learned the art of cleanliness, and the Houyhnhnms look like horses, but organize and decide on things based on reason. Gulliver stays a while with the Houyhnhnms, and enjoys himself immensely in their utopia of fairness and logic. The Houyhnhnms, however, tell him soon enough that he has to leave, and he goes back to England on a Portuguese vessel.
When he returns to home, he is disgusted at the thought of being around his family, who are essentially Yahoos. He spends as much time away from them as he can, and talks to the horses in his stable often.
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