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Gulliver's Travels | Study Guide

Jonathan Swift

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Part 3, Chapter 7

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Part 3, Chapter 7 of Jonathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels.

Gulliver's Travels | Part 3, Chapter 7 | Summary



Gulliver arranges to leave Balnibarbi and sails to the neighboring island of Glubbdubdrib, loosely translated as "the island of sorcerers or magicians." The primary magic of the inhabitants of this island rests on the ability to call forth dead people and make them servants, which makes Gulliver nervous. Gulliver greets the governor of the island and gives an account of his travels. He dines with the governor, who uses his magic to call up ghosts to serve the meal. Gulliver spends 10 days on the island, at which time the governor invites Gulliver to call up the dead from any part of history to answer questions. Gulliver speaks with Alexander the Great, Cæsar, Pompey, Hannibal, and other notable figures from antiquity.


Glubbdubdrib's reliance on magic stands in sharp contrast to Laputa's reliance on scientific thinking—however flawed that thinking might be. It is in Glubbdubdrib that Gulliver finds meaningful discourse through his communication with the dead leaders and philosophers of ancient times. There is real value in knowing the past and learning from it, and abstract thoughts and experiments are a poor substitute. In a literal nod to the value of these Classical influences, Gulliver's congress with the dead mirrors similar scenes that appear in the Odyssey and the Aeneid, in which the title characters also learn from conversations with the dead.

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