Book 2, Chapters 7-8 Notes from Gulliver's Travels

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Gulliver's Travels Book 2, Chapters 7-8

Gulliver explains his sorrow to the reader at having illustrated the King's negative impressions and opinions of his beloved England. He apologizes to the reader and attempts to only place Europe in the highest and most esteemed places in his mind. He notes that he fails in this attempt, but also contests that the King has a narrow vision of Europe, for he is sheltered in his country. "The want of which knowledge will ever produce many prejudices, and a certain narrowness of thinking, from which we and the politer countries of Europe are wholly exempted" Book 2, Chapter 7, pg. 174. Gulliver and the King debate over and over again on their respective systems of government, until Gulliver presents an unfortunate image of the King as immobile and two-dimensional. The library system of Brobdingnag consists of less than a thousand volumes, despite their printing system (equivalent to that of the Chinese), and their writing does not flow, despite its clear and masculine style. The contents of philosophy are similar to that of Western European writings, as they contemplate mankind, life, afterlife, and the life that preceded them. They claim that the life before them could have been much larger than it is now, as Gulliver notes the universality of the topics in their writings. The army consists of one hundred seventy-six thousand foot men with thirty-two thousand horses, farmers and militiamen in each town, with the local gentry commanding them. And although Gulliver notices the similarities in philosophy and distinctions in class and political structure, he is content to recognize that they, too, have been plagued by the problems of most nations - civil war.

Although Gulliver becomes the delight of the King and Queen and court of the nation, he grows lonely for his own breed, so that he may carry on a conversation with equals. The King, desperate to keep his friend around, wants to find him a woman of his own size. In lieu of being caged up like a lab rat, Gulliver realizes that he is ready to leave Brobdingnag. At this time, he and Glumdalclitch have fallen ill with colds. A servant asks to take Gulliver out for a walk by the sea during one of their trips outside the city. Saddened and tearful, Glumdalclitch relinquishes her presence over Gulliver after two years as his nanny and consents to letting this man take care of her toy for a short while. The servant sets Gulliver's box (in which he lays) on the ground, while he climbs the rocks looking for birds. Suddenly a large eagle picks up Gulliver's box by the ring at its top and carries it in the air, terrifying him. The eagle drops the box over the sea and Gulliver miraculously survives this disastrous fall, only to fall prey to the water in the sea and days of hunger. Eventually, Gulliver turns the box on its side and climbs to the top to make a hole through which he can see. When he finally succeeds, he hears an English voice asking if there is anyone around who needs help. Gulliver seeks their attention and is rescued by the ship of Mr. Thomas Wilcocks. In disbelief, the seamen think him raving and mad, but appease him by listening to some of his stories, while he initially believes them to be pygmies. They strip his box of its riches and sink the rest of it. Gulliver remarks that if he had seen their massacre of his old home, he would have been saddened because he grew fond of Glumdalclitch, the Queen and King, and other Brobdingnags.

When Gulliver awakens from his rest, recovered, the captain feeds and speaks with Gulliver. He tells him that he initially saw the monstrous chest in the water and told his men to discover what it was and to rescue anyone inside. He also believes Gulliver to be a criminal who has made up a story and was set to sea in a chest. After a detailed recount of his story from England to Brobdingnag and now to the ship, Gulliver shows his captain several souvenirs from the land, which include a comb made from the King's beard and the Queen's thumb-nail, wasp stings used as nails, and a corn cut from a Maid of Honor's toe. The captain tells Gulliver that he should write down all of his experiences, for they are miraculous. Gulliver does not want to do so, for he fears that there is already too much travel writing in publication. Because of this belief, he claims that his writings are different. "That my story could contain little besides common events, without those ornamental descriptions of strange plants, trees, birds, and other animals, or the barbarous customs and idolatry of savage people, with which most writers abound" Book 2, Chapter 8, pg. 189.

Gulliver borrows five shillings from the captain so that he may return home. Their voyage back to England proves to be long and eventful, but is not discussed by Gulliver. He parts ways with his new friend, the captain, and looks around at all the houses and food, as being tiny. He recalls his time in Lilliput, as he enters his own home.

"When I came to my own house, for which I was forced to enquire, one of the servants opening the door, I bent down to go in (like a goose under a gate) for fear of striking my head. My wife ran out to embrace me, but I stooped lower than her knees, thinking she could otherwise never be able to reach my mouth. My daughter kneeled to ask me blessing, but I could not see her till she arose, having been so long used to stand with my head an eyes erect to above sixty foot; and then I went to take her up with one hand, by the waist. I looked down upon the servants and one or two friends who were in the house, as if they had been pygmies, and I a giant." Book 2, Chapter 8, pg. 191

Although he feels lucky to have returned home to see his wife and children, nothing can cure him of his insatiable sea appetite. His wife begs him not to return to the life of a seaman, but he resists her pleas. The second tale ends as Gulliver looks to travel, once again.

Topic Tracking: Exploration 6

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