Gulliver’s Travels English Summary

Gulliver’s Travels is a famous novel written by Jonathan Swift. He was born in 1667 AD and died in 1745 AD. He was a famous prose writer, poet, politician and Anglo-Irish satirist. He is mainly known for his satirical literature. His four main satirical literatures are:

  • A Tale of a Tub (1704) (prose and tragedy) 
  • An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity (1712) (satirical essay)  
  • Gulliver’s Travels (1726) (satirical fiction)  
  • A Modest Proposal (1729) (satirical essay) 

Key Information about the novel:

  • Full title: “Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships.” 
  • Genre: Fiction of satire based on fantasy / Satirical fiction.
  • Type of work: Novel 
  • Time of composition: 1712-1726 
  • Published date:  28 October 1726 
  • Point of view for novel: First person point of view. 
  • Time setting: Early eighteenth century that means age of prose and reason. 
  • Place setting: England. But in the novel Swift uses some imaginary places such as Lilliput, Brobdingnag, laputa, Balnibarbi, Glubbdubdrib. 
  • Number of voyages/ parts: There are four parts of the Novel such as: 

Part I: A Voyage to Lilliput (4 May 1699 – 13 April 1702) 

Part II: A Voyage to Brobdingnag (20 June 1702 – 3 June 1706) 

Part III: A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib and Japan (5 August 1706 – 16 April 1710) 

Part IV: A Voyage to the Land of the Houyhnhnms (7 September 1710 – 5 December 1715)  

Major Characters of the Novel

Lemuel Gulliver: Gulliver is the narrator of this novel. He is a medical surgeon by profession. His many dreams of sea voyages caused him to sail 4 times.

Mrs. Mary Burton Gulliver: Gulliver’s wife.

Lilliputians: Citizens of the island of Lilliput who are 5 or 6 inches tall.

Blefuscudians: These are the inhabitants of the neighbouring islands of Lilliput. who helped Gulliver to return home.

The Emperor: Leader of the Lilliputians. Gulliver becomes very friendly with Emperor when he comes to the island of Lilliput, but when Gulliver does not help them in the war with the neighboring islands of Lilliput but asks them to stop the war, he changes his mind on Gulliver and punishes him severely.

Flimnap: Gulliver’s only enemy on the island of Lilliput. He accuses Gulliver of having an illicit relationship with his wife.

Reldresal: Gulliver’s only friend on the island of Lillipore who helps Gulliver in many ways, a notable one being his recommendation to commute Gulliver’s sentence when Gulliver is declared a traitor.

Brobdingnagians: Citizens of the island of Brobdingnag. Whose height was 60 feet. To Gulliver they are like giant monsters.

The Farmer: The Farmer of Brobdingnag. He picked Gulliver up from the beach and took him to his house and showed him the puppet dance. He sold Gulliver to the queen when he fell in love with the puppet show.

Glumdalclitch: The Farmer’s Daughter. He plays puppets with Gulliver.

The King: King of Brobdingnag. Gulliver spent a lot of time with him and talked a lot about politics.

Laputans: Citizens of a Commentary Island. This island is reached by Gulliver during his third voyage.

Houyhnhnms: A type of horse in which Gulliver found mannerisms. Gulliver spends several years with them. Gulliver did not want to leave them and go back to England.

Munodi: Lord of Balnibarbi.

Don Pedro: Sailor of the Portuguese ship. He brings Gulliver to Houyhnhnms Island.

Yohoos: The Houyhnhnms are the people of this island. Who are very mischievous.

Themes of the novel “Gulliver’s Travels”:

  • The body
  • Literature and language
  • Satire (politics, science, mathematics, astronomy)
  • Morality and Ethics
  • Abuse of power

Synopsis of the Novel:

Gulliver Travels is a famous critical novel by Jonathan Swift. In this novel, he has a great opportunity to criticize England’s politics, war, science and people. In this novel, Gulliver travels to four different islands and shows the culture and customs of the people there, through which he mainly criticizes the science of warfare.

Gulliver first travelled to an island called Lilliput where people were five to six inches tall. In these five to six inch tall men he found a vengeance and a fighting spirit. He also found corruption and false accusations among the Lilliputians. Basically he criticized the people of England through these.

Gulliver made a second trip to an island called Brobdingnag. There he saw a 60 feet tall giant like man. And with the king there he often discussed the politics of England.

The third time Gulliver travels to an island called Laputa. There he met some very strange people and had long discussions with them about science and mathematics. The fourth time Gulliver travels to an island called Houyhnhnms where he finds mannerism in a horse named Houyhnhnms but there is no mannerism in the people there.

Critical Summary

Gulliver’s career before the voyage

The novel begins with Gulliver’s career. Gulliver is a medical doctor by profession. But he did not achieve good success in his medical career. His wife’s name is Mrs. Mary Burton. Gulliver could not concentrate on his work at all. His dream was to sail and do various adventurous activities. Due to which he decided to leave his medical profession and work on a ship at sea. Everyone in his family disagreed on this. Everyone convinces him not to go to sea because the sea journey is very dangerous and difficult. Gulliver decides to set sail against his family’s disapproval, which is why he takes leave of his family and sets sail.

Gulliver’s first voyage to the island of Lilliput

Gulliver went to sea to discover something new, his voyage was going very well. But suddenly when his ship arrived in the middle of the sea, the sea was rough and there was a storm in the sea. Gulliver lay unconscious on the edge of the sea. Lilliput is the name of the island where Gulliver was carried by the waves of the sea.

Lilliputians lived on this Lilliputian island. Their height was 5 to 6 inches. In such a small island of people, everything was the king, the state, the regime, the subjects, everything. The Lilliputians saw Gulliver lying on the edge of the sea and thought it was a giant monster. They thought that this monster could be very harmful to them, so the Lilliputian soldiers tied Gulliver with a rope on the king’s order. Interestingly, when they tied Gulliver with a rope, they used a ladder or ladder to climb into Gulliver’s belly. They completely tied Gulliver with rope. Gulliver’s hair is pulled back and tied. These Lilliputians had bows and arrows. They shot Gulliver repeatedly with arrows.

When Gulliver regains consciousness he tries to stand but he cannot, because his whole body is tied with rope and he notices small creatures moving over his belly and being hit by a kind of small arrows. Gulliver looks closely and sees that he is tied with ropes and that the little things moving over him are Lilliputians, i.e. people. These Lilliputians have hands, feet, ears, nose, and everything. Gulliver is arrested by the Lilliputians.

After Gulliver regains consciousness, the Emperor of the Lilliputians meets Gulliver and orders his soldiers to take Gulliver to his kingdom. Gulliver was transported in a chariot drawn by many horses. After Gulliver is taken to the island of Lilliput, Gulliver is chained to the porch of the temple. Gulliver becomes a friend of the Emperor of the Lilliputians. Gulliver assures them that he will do no harm to them. He says that while he was sailing, there was a sudden storm in the sea and his ship sank in the sea and he reached this island by floating.

None of the Lilliputians believed Gulliver’s words. But the emperor believed Gulliver’s words and allowed him to stay in Lilliput. Everyone was very afraid of Gulliver because Gulliver could destroy this kingdom in a moment if Gulliver wanted. However, after Gulliver arrives in this kingdom, he becomes the friend of Red Russell. The Lilliputian emperor provides food for Gulliver and allows him to stay on the porch of the temple. And Gulliver continues to help these Lipitians in various ways.

The Lilliputians are neighbouring kingdoms of the Blefuscudians. The Lilliputians were at war with the Blefuscudians. The Blefuscudians sailed to the shores of the island to attack the Lilliputians. Gulliver goes with the Lilliputians to the seashore to help them. And Gulliver dragged all the ships of the Blefuscudians down to the shore. Gulliver tries to convince the Bluffs not to fight because war is harmful for everyone. However Gulliver can’t impress them. And they don’t accept Gulliver’s words. So Gulliver pools in almost 50 ships of the Blefuscudians in the sea shore with his hands. The emperor was very pleased to see Gulliver pulling all the ships together and gave him an honorary post. Everyone continues to praise Gulliver.

One day in the kingdom of Lilliput, the queen’s palace caught fire. Due to the high speed of the fire, everyone in the kingdom of Lilliput tried to put out the fire but could not put out the fire. So Gulliver urinates. After this incident the Emperor of Lilliput felt very humiliated. and wanted to punish Gulliver.

Gulliver solves another problem of the kingdom of Lilliput. In order to appoint people to the royal palace of the kingdom of Lilliput, there is a kind of examination called roof dancing. A high rope is hung and whoever can walk over it will get a job. And whoever falls from the rope will not get the job. Gulliver arranges a large net here as many people fall from the rope and die and if this net is kept down then no one will fall over the water and die.

The novelist criticizes the employment system in England through this subject because the aptitude test is being taken wrongly.

However, when Gulliver asks the Emperor of the Lilliputians to stop the war they are having with neighboring islands, the Emperor becomes angry with Gulliver and wants to punish him. The Emperor says to Gulliver, you should help us so that we can destroy the kingdom of Blefuscudians. But Gulliver doesn’t do that and because of that Gulliver is convicted of treason. At first, Gulliver was sentenced to have his two eyes plucked out, but in this kingdom of Lilliputs, Gulliver had a friend named Red Russell. Red Russell commutes Gulliver’s sentence and helps Gulliver escape. Gulliver fled this kingdom of Lilliput to the neighboring kingdom of Blefuscudians. They collect wood for Gulliver to build a boat and Gulliver builds a boat in the sea and in that boat he returns home.

Gulliver’s Second Voyage at Brobdingnag:

Gulliver made his second voyage two months after returning from his first voyage. This time Gulliver is found on an island called Brobdingnag. Where Gulliver was Lilliput and the people of that island were giant monsters. Gulliver’s height was 6 feet but the height of the islanders was 60 feet. So to a 6 feet man a 60 feet man is nothing but a monster. Gulliver is found on a plot of land on this island. A farmer finds Gulliver while working in his field. And he caught Gulliver in his pants pocket and brought him home.

Everything on this island was big. The rats on this island were very large. They were coming to eat Gulliver. This farmer had a daughter named Glumdalclitch. The farmer’s daughter played with Gulliver as a doll. The farmer wanted Gulliver to work for him. The farmer gave a puppet dance using Gulliver in the market and took money from the people in exchange for the dance. Gulliver had to face a lot of troubles to dance but he had to dance like a puppet.

The queen of that kingdom fell in love with Gulliver after seeing the puppet dance. The queen wants to buy Gulliver from the farmer and eventually the queen buys Gulliver from the farmer and takes him to her palace. The king of this kingdom was a very kind hearted person. The King and Gulliver discuss the politics of England. Many aspects emerged in this discussion, one of them is that the king says that you people oppress each other and take each other’s lives. You oppress people and destroy nature.

Gulliver’s third voyage to Laputa, a floating island

Gulliver successfully made his third voyage to this island. Laputa is a floating island. Some of Gulliver’s strange nature is seen on this island. The citizens of this island continue to do strange experiments with various things. They carry out mathematical and astronomical experiments which have no basis and to which they always pay attention. After arriving at this island, Gulliver traveled to two more islands.

Gulliver travels to Balnibarbi, a barren island. On this island, Gulliver discovers that science always works without experiments. They don’t need any experiments to do scientific inventions. Gulliver then travels to another island called Glubbdubdrib. The governor of this island is always trying to bring the dead back to life which has no basis in reality. From here Gulliver went to Japan and from there he returned to his family.

Gulliver’s Fourth Voyage to Houyhnhnms Island

Five months later his return from Japan, Gulliver set sail again and reached an island called the Houyhnhnms. There, he noticed that the animals there had mannerisms similar to those of humans, that is, he found many good points in the movement there. In the horse he sees all sides from humanity to goodness. Gulliver spends a lot of time with horses on this island.

But the sad thing is that the people on this island are very rude. There is no mannerism in them. They are always torturing each other and fighting with each other. And the islanders attack Gulliver but the horses protect Gulliver. Gulliver became very friendly with the horses.

From this island, Gulliver had no desire to return home. However, after spending a long time on this island, Gulliver finally returned home to his family. After coming to his family, Gulliver changes a lot in that he starts to withdraw from people and spends more time with animals, especially with horses. And this is how this novel ends.

The motif of the novel:  

  • Excrement 
  • Foreign language 
  • Clothing 

Moral lessons of the novel: 

  • Unnecessary conflict must be avoided by establishing peace. 
  • Nobody is superior, that is why Gulliver is at the same big and small or Lilliput. 
  • Geographical advantage for domination does not mean power or eligibility. 
  • Even animals are organized because of their friendly nature. 
Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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