Gulliver's Travels Notes

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Gulliver's Travels Plot Summary

Lemuel Gulliver, an educated and trained surgeon, speaks to the reader and explains that he will retell of his experiences at sea. He recounts his youth, education, and marriage to Mrs. Mary Burton, and about his reasons for writing these tales. They are simply to relate his stories, no other reasons. His first voyage is met with horrible weather, stranding him on an island called Lilliput. When he awakens, he is tied to the ground and surrounding by thousands of miniature people called Lilliputians. After a slow integration and aid in the military victory over neighboring Blefuscu, Gulliver is commended and named an honorable man at Lilliput. However, after several years there, he is forced to flee the land because of the government's intended arrest for treason. He goes to Blefuscu, where he soon sails away back to England.

Soon after his wife and children see him, Gulliver sets sail again. This time, he is shipwrecked on the peninsula-type land of Brobdingnag, an opposite world from Lilliput. In this country, Gulliver is the Lilliputian and everyone is a giant to him. With such a microscopic view into humanity, Gulliver discovers the grotesque nature of human beings, both physically and spiritually. Although he is loved by his nursemaid, Glumdalclitch, and the King and Queen, Gulliver eventually seeks companionship of his own kind. Furthermore, he fears for his life, after a constant array of brushes with death. As he plans a method of escape, a large bird picks up his wooden home and carries it over sea where the bird drops it onto the water. Gulliver floats in it for days until he is rescued by an English ship. Nobody believes his stories, at first. However, when Gulliver presents souvenirs from the land, they believe him and commend him on his journeys.

Gulliver revisits his home, and much to his family's chagrin, decides to leave home once again to satisfy the urge of exploration that plagues his soul. On board at sea, his ship is taken captive by pirates. Gulliver manages to escape to land. However, as soon as he discovers the new land, he is pulled up to a flying floating island that hovers above ground. On the floating island of Laputa, Gulliver meets the Laputans who run their world thought mathematics and science, and allow their land to be dictated by a giant lodestone at the center of the island. Eventually, Gulliver grows weary of these people, for they cannot communicate without the help of a flapper. So, he journeys to the islands below in Balnibarbi. He visits Lagado and its Academy, he visits Glubbdubdrib, the land of the spirits, where he summons the ghosts of such historical figures as Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. He also visits Luggnagg, where he meets the immortal race of the Struldbruggs, who he learns are not as miraculous as they seem to be. Gulliver leaves the continent of Balnibarbi (the land that houses all these towns), and returns home.

For one last time, Gulliver leaves home to explore the world. This time, his own shipmates revolt against him, leaving him powerless and weak. He eventually finds land and sees nothing but the footsteps of some humans, cows, and many horses. He meets the Houyhnhnms and Yahoos. The Houyhnhnms are the superior ruling class species of the land, and are the spitting images of horses, while the Yahoos are the inferior brutish servants to the horses, and bear the image of a human. The Houyhnhnms see Gulliver as just another horrid Yahoo, until one of them takes Gulliver under his tutelage and learns about his culture. This master horse befriends Gulliver, and Gulliver likewise learns to love everything about this blessed culture. He begins to despise his own race of human beings and worship the Houyhnhnm culture of reason and respect and truth. However the Assembly of Houyhnhnms soon votes Gulliver off the land, for he is too similar to a Yahoo to continue living as an equal. Gulliver is heartbroken, but abides by their rules and regulations.

After four years with the Houyhnhnms, Gulliver returns to England. His family assumes he is dead and is shocked to see him. Gulliver has since picked up the gait of a horse and finds all humans detestable beings, especially his family. His time at Houyhnhnm altered his perspective of society forever, leaving him unhappy in Europe. He eventually re-accustoms himself to life in England, but buys two horses to keep as companions. He speaks with them for four hours every day from then on, and writes of his experiences and explorations around the world.

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