Notes on Gulliver's Travels Themes

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Gulliver's Travels Topic Tracking: Gender Differences

Gender Differences 1: Gulliver illustrates the carelessness of women, when he retells the story of the fire. It started, apparently, by the mindlessness of one of the Empress's maids. Furthermore, the only way to extinguish the fire is through urination, an act so lewd and grotesque that a woman could not handle it. She decrees that public urination be banned and that the contaminated building be left as it is. The method by which Gulliver describes this event, leads the reader to believe that only a woman would act so harshly to his actions.

Gender Differences 2: When the farmer initially shows Gulliver ot his wife, she screams with disgust, the way a woman would react to a bug. Later, Gulliver is repulsed most of all by the sight of a woman's breast. He looks up close at the woman's anatomy and thanks God for the women of England. Whenever Gulliver notices women in Brobdingnag, he is perpetually repulsed, for he sees all their faults and blemishes in expanded form.

Gender Differences 3: Glumdalclitch adopts Gulliver as her little pet/doll, and loves him dearly. Her feminine touch and attention is what Gulliver needs while living in Brobdingnag. Perhaps only a young woman (child) would have been able to care for Gulliver with such attention, affection, and detail. However, her youthful feminine cries are also a disturbance to Gulliver, for he must deal with the negatives as well as the positives.

Gender Differences 4: When Gulliver describes a grotesque vision of humanity in Brobdingnag, he generally uses women as the objects of repulsion. Initially it is the Empress who eats in a grotesque fashion, and now it is the homeless beggar. The beggar is a horrific site, as Gulliver can see into the crevices and cavities in her body, destroyed by vermin and waste and disease.

Gender Differences 5: Again, Gulliver describes a repulsive experience with a woman. Glumdalclitch brings Gulliver to visit the maids of the palace. However, they change in front of him, making him gag at the sight of their blemished skin and sickly smell. One maid even placed him on her nipple so that she could play with him closely. Gulliver does not describe men purely by their physical and flippant attributes - only women.

Gender Differences 6: Women are repeatedly described separately from men, as is the case in the flying island of Laputa. The women are described by geometric shape and mathematical figures. The entire population is described in the same way, however, Gulliver makes a point to tell the reader that the women are separate. Furthermore, the women are not allowed to explore or travel off the island without specific doctrine from the King.

Gender Differences 7: Women are taxed differently than men are in Balnibarbi. They are taxed on the basis of what their most important virtues are - beauty and fashion.

Gender Differences 8: Gulliver relates a story of the yahoo women and how they are different from the men. One day he was bathing and a female yahoo jumped after him, leaping and attacking. Gulliver was so shocked, he didn't know what to do. Furthermore, he learns that the female yahoo can leave her family after she gives birth. There is no allegiance to anyone.

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