Gulliver's Travels | Study Guide

Jonathan Swift

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Gulliver's Travels | Part 2, Chapter 3 | Summary

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Summary

Gulliver is made to perform for crowds to the point of exhaustion. He loses a lot of weight and is in poor health. The farmer takes Gulliver to visit the queen, who is delighted by his performance and wants to buy Gulliver. The farmer sells him for 1,000 pieces of gold. As part of the sale, Glumdalclitch is made part of the queen's court so she can remain with Gulliver. The queen takes Gulliver to meet the king, who thinks Gulliver is some sort of machine. Gulliver tells the king how he came to the land and that he comes from a land where everything is proportioned to his own size.

The queen has an apartment and fine clothes made for Gulliver. The queen likes Gulliver immensely and has him dine with her. The king joins them for dinner one night and asks about Europe. Gulliver tells him about customs, laws, and religion in England. The king laughs at Gulliver's stories. Gulliver feels his country has been slighted but does not argue with the king. The queen's dwarf grows jealous that Gulliver has become a court favorite and bullies him at meals.

Analysis

When the king meets Gulliver, he thinks Gulliver is some kind of mechanical toy, and in some ways this is a fitting description of Gulliver's life in Brobdingnag. He is a toy for these large creatures. The farmer treats Gulliver more as a machine than as a living creature when he demands Gulliver perform for the public. He is sold to the queen as a piece of property only because the farmer thinks Gulliver will die soon, so he wants to make a final profit from Gulliver. Although Glumdalclitch and the queen treat Gulliver kindly and see to his every need, he is more like a doll to them than a human. Even after Gulliver has proven to the king that he is, indeed, a living man with the capacity to think and speak, the king treats him as a novelty and cannot open his mind to entertain the possibility that Gulliver comes from a civilized country with its own laws, philosophies, and advancements, however different they may be from Brobdingnag's customs. In 18th-century Europe, it was common to go on tour with people from faraway places. These people, and their explanations of their cultures and customs, were treated as novel amusements rather than taken as seriously as the Europeans took themselves. Swift draws on this custom in his representation of Gulliver's life in Brobdingag.

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