Book 3, Chapters 1-4 Notes from Gulliver's Travels

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Gulliver's Travels Book 3, Chapters 1-4

Gulliver opens this third book by introducing Captain William Robinson, the man with whom he begins his second leg of travels. After much persuasion and flattery, the captain manages to secure the surgeon Gulliver as a mate on his ship, which sets sale on August 5th, 1706 for Fort St. George. They arrive at the fort on August 11th and stay for three weeks to rest and recuperate. They soon sail again to Tonquin, where Captain Robinson shops extensively. Three days into their journey again at sea, they encounter an enormous storm, like the two previous adventures. Amidst the strong winds, they are chased by two pirate ships and taken captive. One pirate captain is a Dutchman, who recognizes Gulliver and his shipmates as Englishmen, while the other is Japanese, speaking in a language that the Englishmen cannot decipher. Before Gulliver encounters the pirates, however, he spots several islands through his telescope. He takes his sale and arrives on the first one, traveling from island to island, until arriving at the final one on his fifth day of exploration. This land seemed different than the rest, but Gulliver does not understand why. He sees fishermen from afar wave to him, and he responds their greeting, joining them from the rocks. Suddenly, he is in another new world.

Topic Tracking: Exploration 7

"They made signs for me to come down from the rock, and go towards the shore, which I accordingly did; and the flying island being raised to a convenient height, the verge directly over me, a chain was let down from the lowest gallery, with a seat fastened to the bottom, to which I fixed myself, and was drawn up by pulleys." Book 3, Chapter 1, pg. 200

Gulliver notices that the Laputans, the people of the island of Laputa, are distinct in their appearance, looking unpleasant from afar.

"Their heads were all reclined either to the right, or the left; one of their eyes turned inward, and the other directly up to the zenith. Their outward garments were adorned with the figures of suns, moons, and stars, interwoven with those of fiddles, flutes, harps, trumpets, guitars, harpsichords, and many more instruments of music, unknown to us in Europe. I observed here and there many in the habit of servants, with a blown bladder fastened like a flail to the end of a short stick, which they carried in their hands. In each bladder was a small quantity of dried pease or little pebbles (as I was afterwards informed). With these bladders they now and then flapped the mouths and ears of those who stood near them, of which practice I could not then conceive the meaning; it seems, the minds of these people are so taken up with intense speculations, that they neither an speak, nor attend to the discourses of others, without being roused by some external taction upon the organs of speech and hearing." Book 3, Chapter 2, pg. 200-201

Furthermore, these people are always deep in thought and can only be brought out of it through a tactile interference, either a flap on the eyelid or ear. Families always keep a flapper around to keep people in motion. The flapper is designated to bring people out of their state of cognition and respond to another. When Gulliver enters the King's palace, the King does not notice him, for he is deep in mathematic thought. Gulliver notices all of the mathematical tools surrounding him until a flapper comes to him to flap his ears to say something. Gulliver motions that he does not need a flapper. When they sit down for dinner, all the food is cut into specific geometric shapes and mathematical figures. Although Gulliver initially believed them to speak Italian, he does not understand their language when they speak to him. At dinner, he attempts to learn specific words, through the help of the flappers, and the derivation of the name of the flying island: Lap, meaning high, and untah, meaning governor.

The King orders clothing to be made for Gulliver. The tailor takes his measurements with a compass and a quadrant, creating sorely ill fitted attire. Gulliver expresses his indifference and gratitude and continues to learn about this culture. He discovers, on their trip to the capital city of Lagado, that the entire culture is defined by these mathematical figures. Women's beauty is described in such terms, as is the rest of the populace. The houses and buildings are poorly built, and Gulliver claims that they are the most ill equipped people he has ever seen. Although they seem dexterous and diligent on paper, they carry out their ideas and actions in a clumsy, awkward fashion. They hold a strong belief in astrology, and are therefore in constant disquiet. Their apprehensions about the celestial system above impede their every motion, every whim, and every hour, leaving them perpetual insomniacs. The women of the island are vivacious and wondrous of the world around them. Like Europe, they may marry into wealth and be doted upon. However, they cannot travel without strict permission and license from the King.

Topic Tracking: Gender Differences 6

After a month or so, Gulliver begins to speak their language fairly well and speaks often with the King on various subjects. However, the conversations generally return to math, for it seems to be the only subject that excites him. After some time, Gulliver requests leave to explore the island, which he discovers is approximately four miles in diameter and three hundred yards thick. The land is covered by minerals from above and below, forcing all the rains to fall at the center and into a basin. The King can even control the latitude of the island, so that it may rise above the clouds and avoid condensation. The center of the island holds Astronomer's Cave, from which the travelers and astronomers descend into. The dome (or cave) houses mountains of mathematical equipment and devices, most notably a large magnet, which keeps the island at steady motion and latitude. It is by this lodestone that the altitude can be changed. Gulliver goes into extreme detail on the maneuvering of the magnet for the island's mobility. It can only be changed by the King's decree. From this lodestone, the country's astronomers can see far clearer pictures than anyone in Europe, and have thenceforth discovered some ninety-three different comets and images of stars up close.

Topic Tracking: Exploration 8

Although they are a dominant people, due to their presence above land, they cannot enslave any subservient population on the islands and continent below. The Monarchy of the land has always enacted three rules to the governing of their people below. If they are disobedient or fall into battle, the King will order that Laputa be placed above their land, blocking all sunlight from entering, causing crisis. If that does not work, they will pelt the land below with stones, forcing the men to hide in caves and houses. And the last resort (never used because of its extremity), is to lower the flying island completely on top of the one below, causing complete and utter destruction of the town below. This final option has grave consequences also for Laputa and the lodestone, so they never enact it.

Topic Tracking: Politics 9

Gulliver learns of a major event in the country's history that impacted its governance for the future. Some three years prior to his arrival, the island of Lindalino, the second largest city in the empire, planned to revolt against the harsh laws of Laputa. They began constructing towers so high that they almost touched the bottom of the flying island, and on the top of the towers, they placed lodestones. They were committed to gaining rights and demonstrating their pride. The King called forth for the first two orders of covering the land with Laputa, depriving the citizens of sunlight and rainfall, and even pelting them with stones. Neither worked, and the towers on land below threatened to destroy Laputa's lodestone, breaking the island. Eventually, the King gave into some of the Lindalinoans' requests. However, despite his acquiescence, they still planned to assassinate him and destroy the government of Laputa. Since then, neither the King nor the Princes are allowed to leave the land. The Queen may only do so after she is past the age of childbearing.

After a short while on the floating island, Gulliver grows impatient and frustrated, ready to leave. It is not that the people are disinteresting, it is only that they care about two subjects - math and science - and pay little heed to Gulliver, since he is not as well versed in them as they are. Furthermore, the only people with whom he can carry on a conversation are the bothersome flappers. Gulliver befriends a great Lord at Court, who has two flapper attendants, but does not need them. This Lord is interested in hearing about Gulliver's country, travels through Europe, and more, and is the man who helps Gulliver leave the island. On February 16, he leaves the island onto the top of a mountain, just as he entered, with a letter of recommendation from the King to a friend in Lagado, the metropolis. The entire continent is called Balnibarbi, with Lagado as its capital, and does not appease Gulliver to all extent. The Lord had prearranged accommodations for Gulliver in one of his acquaintance's apartments.

Topic Tracking: Exploration 9

Lord Munodi, the owner of the apartment, takes Gulliver on a tour of Lagado the following day. It is approximately half the size of London, but with a people of extraordinary haste and wildness. Everyone is constantly working, but seeming to no avail. "I did not discover any good effects they produced; but on the contrary, I never knew a soil so unhappily cultivated, houses so ill contrived and so ruinous, or a people whose countenances and habit expressed so much misery and want" Book 3, Chapter 4, pg. 219.

Munodi asks Gulliver his opinions of the metropolis, people, and architecture. Gulliver has no response, for he has not yet made an official opinion of the people. The following morning, Munodi takes Gulliver on a journey through the country (in which farmers cultivate not one blade of grass nor a single ear of corn), and to his grand country home, an architectural relic for the land of Balnibarbi, of which Gulliver expresses his awe and admiration. Munodi informs Gulliver that the farmers hate him, because he could do little in the past to improve the situations in the grounds and meadows. Years earlier, several citizens of Lagado had traveled up to Laputa to study. When they returned, they had only learned of mathematics, but had picked up some additional techniques and characteristics. They formed the Academy, in which arts and all subjects are taught in their own way, despite the stringent law of the land. Munodi disagreed with everything about the revolutionaries and the Academy. Soon Academies popped up in every town and city. However, the government viewed the people who started these schools as different, for none of the projects within the programs are ever implemented or carried out.

Topic Tracking: Politics 10

"By all which, instead of being discouraged, they are fifty times more violently bent upon prosecuting their schemes, driven equally on by hope and despair; that as for himself, being not of an enterprising spirit, he was content to go on in the old forms, to live in the houses his ancestors had built, and act as they did in every part of life without innovation. That, some few other persons of quality and gentry had done the same, but were looked on with an eye of contempt and ill-will, as enemies to art, ignorant, and ill commonwealth's-men, preferring their own ease and sloth before the general improvement of their country." Book 3, Chapter 4, pg. 222

Gulliver is intrigued to learn more about these people at the Academy and plans a visit. Munodi decides not to accompany him because of his history and bad reputation with the Academy and the people.

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