Gulliver's Travels | Study Guide

Jonathan Swift

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Gulliver's Travels | Part 2, Chapter 1 | Summary

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Summary

After two months at home, Gulliver grows restless and returns to sea aboard the Adventure. A massive storm strikes, forcing the ship off its course. When the men spot an island in the distance, the captain sends a crew of 12 men, including Gulliver, to search for fresh water. The island is called Brobdingnag. Once on land, Gulliver wanders off on his own. He returns to the crew and sees the men rowing frantically back to the ship as a giant creature chases them in the water.

Gulliver walks through the countryside, finding giant blades of grass and huge rows of corn. He sees several of the giants cutting down crops with scythes. Eventually, Gulliver is spotted by one of the "monsters," who are actually giant humans. A giant farmer inspects Gulliver closely and takes him home. Gulliver and the farmer's family share a meal, during which Gulliver notes the facial imperfections visible on the giants. After dinner, Gulliver sleeps in the bed of the farmer's wife. Two rats attack him, but Gulliver kills one and wounds the other with his sword.

Analysis

For the first time in his journeys, Gulliver expresses regret for leaving home for another voyage when he discovers he has been stranded by his panicked crewmates in a land filled with giants. He fears for his life as he hides from the farm workers' scythes, and he comes to a new understanding of the Lilliputians' fear of his own bulk relative to theirs. The experience of Lilliput is now reversed for Gulliver, making him vulnerable and fearful as the Lilliputians must have been when they discovered a giant in their midst. Even after the farmer takes Gulliver home and provides him dinner with the family, Gulliver's experience is one of ongoing anxiety. He fears falling from the table, being attacked by the family cat, or becoming a plaything of the family's young son. Even in the farmer's wife's bed, he isn't safe and is forced to defend himself against rats the size of large dogs. Gulliver's transition from Lilliput to Brobdingnag reveals how dominance and safety are relative concepts, based on the place in the world one occupies and subject to change as that world changes.

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