Monday, April 24, 2017


(Thanks to gradesaver.com whose synopsis I adapted for this post.)


Lemuel Gulliver goes on four separate voyages in Gulliver's Travels. Each journey is preceded by a storm. All four voyages bring new perspectives to Gulliver's life and new opportunities for ruling a country.

The first voyage is to Lilliput, where Gulliver is yuge huge and the Lilliputians are small. At first the Lilliputians seem amiable, but the reader soon sees them for the ridiculous and petty creatures they are. Gulliver is convicted of treason for peeing in the tiny White House (even though he put out a fire and and therefore saved countless lives) among other "crimes."

The second voyage is to Brobdingnag, a land of Giants where Gulliver seems as small as the Lilliputians were to him. Gulliver is afraid, but his keepers are surprisingly gentle. In fact, ladies let him play on their naked bodies. He is humiliated by the King when the King is refused permission to also play on their naked bodies.  He is generally startled by the ignorance of the people here; even the king knows nothing about politics or global warming. Gulliver realizes how revolting he must have seemed to the Lilliputians.

Gulliver's third voyage is to Laputa (and neighboring Luggnagg and Glubdugdribb). In a visit to the island of Glubdugdribb, Gulliver meets the Long Island Medium and learns how she does her hair, call up the dead and discovers the deceptions of history. Also, he meets the Stuldbrugs, a race endowed with immortality. Gulliver discovers that they are miserable. Being the kind and caring man that he is, he manages to kill them all.

His fourth voyage is to the land of the Houyhnhnms, who were horses endowed with reason. They were served by Yahoos. Their rational, clean (except for the stables) and simple society is contrasted with the filthiness and brutality of the Yahoos, beasts in human shape. Gulliver sets about learning their language, and when he is able to neigh and whinny correctly he narrates his voyages to them and explains the constitution of England and the rules of poker. He is treated with great courtesy and kindness by the horses and is enlightened by his many conversations with them and by his exposure to their noble culture. He wants to stay forever with the Houyhnhnms, but his naked body reveals to the horses that he is very much like a Yahoo, and he is looked down on. He nevertheless stays with the Houyhnhnms for several years, finding a friendly mare and becoming completely enamored with her and their colts and fillies to the point that he never wants to leave. 

When he is told that the time has come for him to leave the island, Gulliver faints from grief.  There was a demonstration, with the horses carrying such signs as “If you’re not a horse, we’ll remove you by force” and “If you're a beagle, you're illegal”.  Upon returning to England, Gulliver feels disgusted about other humans, including his own family of Yahoos. He does not go on any more voyages because the names of the islands and their inhabitants were becoming increasingly more difficult to spell, let alone pronounce.