Book review on Gulliver’s Travels

Gulliver Travels Book review

Title– Gulliver’s Travels

AuthorJonathan Swift, a famous an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet and cleric who write many books and one of his most famous novel was publish in 1726 “The travels into several remote nations of the world by Lemuel Gulliver” a collection of Lemuel Gulliver’s fascinating voyages all over the world.

Publisher: Wordsworth Classics (Dec 1999), HarperCollins (2010) and Others

Genres: Satire, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Speculative fiction

Summary of Gulliver’s Travels

Lemuel Gulliver is an educated and trained surgeon from Nottinghamshire, England. He has a great passion towards travelling and his that passion takes him to four separate voyages that bring new perspectives, adventure and opportunities in Gulliver’s life.

The first voyage of Gulliver starts from Lilliput when his ship was hit by storm and lands him to island of Lilliput where he was captured by small Lilliputians approximately six inches in height who mistaken him as giant came to destroy they small land. They chained him inside old temple outside the city. Later because of his good behavior and helpful nature he becomes good friend of Lilliputians and their king. Gulliver also helped Lilliputians to get rid from their biggest enemies Blefuscu, an island across the bay from them. During his stay at Liliput he also makes two enemies the adminral Skyresh Bolgolam and the treasure Filmnap who always influence emperor to have Gulliver executed. Gulliver helped Lilliputians in many ways and finally fined a human sized boat, he repaired it and sails from Blefuscu eventually to be rescued at sea by an English merchant ship and returned to his home in England.

After staying sometime with his family in England, he went for his second voyage to Brobdingnag which is a land of Giants around 60 feet tall, where Gulliver seems as small as the Lilliputians were to him. But people of Brobdingnag are surprisingly very gentle and kind as compare to their size. There Gulliver was caught by a farmer. He took him to his home where his daughter Glumdalclitch, a 9-year-old treats him like a doll. The farmer exhibits him for money throughout the kingdom. The King and Queen of Brobdingnag love Gulliver but one day during with his discussion comparing their ways of living Gulliver feel embarrassed about England and its government. After spending over two years there, on a one sunny day during his trip to the Brobdingnag seaside, his “travelling box” is seized by a giant eagle that drops Gulliver and his box right into the sea where he is picked up by some sailors, who return him to England.

On his third journey Gulliver is assigned captain of a sloop to visit Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, Japan and nearby islands to establish trade. But unfortunately he met with pirates who force him to leave the ship. Later he was rescued by the inhabitants of a flying island Laputa where people are over-thinkers and are ridiculous in other ways. From Laputa, Gulliver is then taken to Balnibarbi, where he visits Munodi and visits the Grand Academy and watches the experiments being done. On his trip to Japan, Gulliver also visits the island of Glubbdubdrib, which is inhabited by magicians and their chief can make people appear from the dead.

His last and fourth voyage takes him to the Country of the Houyhnhnms ruled by an intelligent and kind race called the Houyhnhnms (who are horses that have evolved into intelligent beings). Gulliver slowly becomes extremely fond of their lifestyle and way of thinking, he want to live his rest of life their but the Assembly of the Houyhnhnms rules that Gulliver, a Yahoo and a danger to their civilization so expels him.

Gulliver’s Travels Characters

Main character of Gulliver’s Travels is Lemuel Gulliver itself .he is the star and central character of the book but there are many other characters which support the book and make it interesting too. Lets discuss important characters of Gulliver’s Travels briefly one by one.

Lemuel Gulliver an educated and trained surgeon from Nottinghamshire, England is the narrator and protagonist of the story who love to travel a lot. Gulliver has a genuine interest in people at the beginning of the novel. Gulliver is a smart guy, interested in people-watching. There is nothing outsized or heroic about Gulliver. He really does seem to be a kind of Everyman, maybe more resourceful than many, but not too brave or powerful. He’s good at adapting himself to other cultures.

The Lilliputians are the natives of Lilliput where Gulliver visited first during his traveling. Lilliputians are only six inches tall, with proportionally tiny buildings and trees and horses. They were ruled by an emperor who judges the skill of people with rope dancing rather than their actual abilities. For Lilliputian Gulliver was a big giant who came to attack on them but later they become friend of him but his friendly behavior with emperor he become the primary targets of emperor courtiers. Gulliver’s’ enormous size makes him both expensive and dangerous for the Emperor to keep, so, in spite of his all good deeds and useful in Lilliput’s wars against Blefuscu, Gulliver has to flee the country to avoid having his eyes put out.

The Lilliputian emperor is fewer than six inches tall who loves war and wants to enslave the people of his neighboring island, Blefuscu. He is very hospitable but not thinks from his mind and got manipulate by his ministers, Flimnap and Skyresh Bolgolam very easily.

Flimnap and Skyresh Bolgolam is the courtiers of Lilliput’s emperor. Flimnap is the treasurer of Lilliput who hates Gulliver after rumors that Gulliver is having an affair with his wife. Skyresh Bolgolam an admiral also wants to evict the Gulliver from Lilliput because of his friendly behavior with emperor joins the plots of Flimnap set against Gulliver.

The Brobdingnagians are inhabitants of Brobdingnag. They are 60 feet tall giants and their lands and animals are correspondingly huge. Gulliver is same in front of them as Lilliputian’s were to him. Gulliver stumbles into cow pats and is nearly drowned by a frog. One day Brobdingnagian King asks Gulliver if he is a Whig or a Tory and then laughs. This hurt him very much. Brobdingnag gives Gulliver a taste of his own medicine. During his visit to Lilliput Gulliver was served by thousands of servants and at Brobdingnag he is getting services of farmer’s daughter Glumdalclitch, a 9-year-old girl who treats him like a doll.

The Brobdingnagian King wants Gulliver to teach him English governance. Gulliver explains about English monarchy, Parliament, religion, and the judicial system but king answers that he cannot understand how the English avoid bribery, corruption or hypocrisy, when there are no laws against these crimes in their government system.

The Brobdingnagian Queen’s Dwarf is not actually a dwarf for Gulliver, he is also 30 feet huge who just hate Gulliver because her master loves him. He did not leave any chance to tease Gulliver and just want to evict him from the Brobdingnag.

The Houyhnhnms arethe rational horses that Gulliver meets on his fourth voyage. Houyhnhnms are very intelligent and trustworthy they do not even have a word for “lie” in their language. Houyhnhnms are highly intelligent and very wise horses. Houyhnhnms have the greatest impact on Gulliver throughout all his four voyages. He always wanted to live them but Houyhnhnms society rules force him to leave the island.

Yahoos are kept as servants to the Houyhnhnms, pulling their carriages and performing manual tasks. Yahoo’s men had hairy bodies and their women recognize by their low-hanging breasts. They are extremely primitive in their eating habits.

Luggnagg is a stop on Gulliver’s way home to England via Japan. According to him it’s a nice place and people there are very polite even with strangers.  The only highlight of this satire is the tale of Gulliver hears of the struldbrugs. Gulliver is not allowed to leave the island until he has received official permission to do so after meeting with the Luggnaggian King.

The King of Luggnagg is very cruel person who makes his own laws and ways of giving punishments. He insists Gulliver to kneel in front of him and lick the ground in front of his feet which shows how rude he is.  Coughing in front of the King is against the law and could get them executed. His cruelty not stops here only he assassinates people he’s not fond of by sprinkling the ground in front of his feet with poison which kills innocent people too.

The Struldbrugs are an immortal race on Balnibarbi who born seemingly normal, but are in fact immortal. Struldbrugs can easily recognized by a red dot above their left eyebrow. They are normal human beings till the age of thirty, but at the age of eighty they become legally dead, and suffer from many ailments like loss of eyesight and the loss of hair.

Don Pedro de Mendez is the Portuguese captain who encourages Gulliver to return to England and also stops him from killing himself in despair and listens to him rant about how awful human beings are. Don Pedro is also the first Yahoo whom Gulliver speaks to after leaving Houyhnhnm Land who insists Gulliver to change out of the Houyhnhnm Land skins he has been wearing and into a suit of clothes once Gulliver comes to stay at Don Pedro’s house before going to London.

Gulliver’s Travels main events

Gulliver’s Travels is full of events, as our hero Lemuel Gulliver likes being at sea and observing people so he went on four voyages which lead to many interesting events. On his first voyage he finds himself in the company of thousands of miniature people called Lilliputians which make him feel pretty secure as he could easily kill a Lilliputian with his foot if he needed to. During his second voyage he reached Brobdingnag which is totally opposite from Lilliput here Gulliver is the Lilliputian and everyone is a giant to him. His third voyage takes him to a floating island Laputa inhabited by theoreticians and academics which oppresses the land below, called Balnibarbi. Finally in his last voyage he reaches in an unknown land populated by Houyhnhnms, land of over intelligent horses.

My Thoughts

Gulliver’s Travels is no doubt a wonderful novel written by Jonathan Swift. It’s must read book for all age group as the structure and choice of characters is well that everyone can enjoy in their own way. The book consists of ever-lasting wisdom and though the metaphors become crude and complex, especially in the last part, is still a worthy read.

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