Gulliver's Travels | Study Guide

Jonathan Swift

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Part 2, Chapter 6

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Part 2, Chapter 6 of Jonathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels.

Gulliver's Travels | Part 2, Chapter 6 | Summary



Gulliver fashions a comb from a piece of wood and pieces of the king's beard stubble. He weaves a chair from the queen's hair. He makes a purse from her hair as well, and gives it to Glumdalclitch with the queen's permission. Gulliver entertains the king by playing a spinet, or piano, for him. The spinet is large, so Gulliver can't press the keys, so he strikes them with giant sticks as he runs along the keyboard.

Gulliver explains the structure of English government to the king. The king asks him many questions about England's economy, politics, and society. The king is surprised to hear about violent rebellions and revolutions in British history. From his conversation with Gulliver, the king concludes that the English must be "the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth."


Gulliver's intelligence, resourcefulness, and ingenuity are on full display as he crafts items that are useful to himself and others from the materials available to him. He also shows tremendous respect for his benefactors, refusing to sit in the chair he made from the queen's hair and asking permission to give the purse to Glumdalclitch. These activities also show Gulliver's desire to keep himself busy and do something useful with his time. Likewise, he demonstrates his resourcefulness alongside his musical talents when he devises a way to play the piano. In spite of these accomplishments and demonstrations, and a detailed understanding of English history and politics, the king continues to dismiss Gulliver's value as anything more than a novelty item. Gulliver even plays into this to a certain extent by producing miniature novelties for his "owners" and performing for them. When the king calls the English a "pernicious race of little odious vermin," he is saying this of Gulliver as well. Certainly Gulliver comes from a flawed society, but the king seems unwilling to recognize those flaws may be balanced by virtues, and he does not entertain the idea that Brobdingnag may have flaws of its own.

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