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Gulliver's Travels | Study Guide

Jonathan Swift

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Part 3, Chapter 1

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Part 3, Chapter 1 of Jonathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels.

Gulliver's Travels | Part 3, Chapter 1 | Summary



Gulliver leaves on a voyage to the East Indies shortly after returning from Brobdingnag. Pirates raid the ship near Tonquin (modern Vietnam), capturing the crew and setting Gulliver adrift in a canoe with a sail and supplies. Gulliver visits a number of uninhabited islands before seeing a large floating island in the sky above him. It blocks out the sun. The island's inhabitants spot Gulliver on the land below and bring him aboard.


Gulliver's decision to leave again on a voyage so soon after returning home reveals the full depth of his desire for adventure and his interest in the rest of the world. Despite his dangerous experiences in Brobdingnag, he is eager for more, suggesting that, while he was able to recognize the dangers and disadvantages of his experiences, he does not see them as being inherently undesirable.

He quickly discovers that dangers can appear in the human-sized world in the form of pirates. The pirates' "merciful" treatment of him—setting him adrift at sea in a small boat—recalls the "mercy" of the Lilliputians who were willing to starve Gulliver to death rather than execute him quickly. Ludicrous punishments and injustices are part of the human-sized world as well. Gulliver, as usual, lands on his feet, encountering the most improbable land yet—a floating island.

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