CBSE class 9 English Gulliver’s Travels Novel – Text – Based Important Questions Solved
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I. QUESTIONS ON CHARACTERS
Describe Lemuel Gulliver as a narrator and an observer of new lands, people and their practices.
Attempt a character sketch of Lemuel Gulliver.
Lemuel Gulliver is the most important character in Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels He is also a keen observer and recorder of events, lands, people and their practices. No doubt, he is a fictitious character invented by Swift. But he impresses us as a detached and impartial observer and critic of mankind.
The voyages with the rough and stormy seas, the attack of sea-pirates or the fantastic locations of islands — everything finds a faithful record in Gulliver’s accounts. Gulliver is also a sharp critic of the political, social, cultural and religious institutions and practices of his own country. Gulliver serves as a mouthpiece of Swift. Gulliver’s comments, conclusions, moralization or condemnation are Swift’s. Of course, they are veiled.
Gulliver gives his biographical details about his birth, marriage, education and profession. He is the third son of a small landowner in Nottinghamshire. He is educated in Cambridge and studied medicine. He is married to Mary who brings a good dowry to him. All these biographical details make us believe that Gulliver’s character is not a fictitious but a real character of flesh and blood.
Whether in Lilliput or in Laputa ; Brobdingnag or the land of the Houyhnhnms, Gulliver observes everything with great care and impartiality. In first three parts of the book, he keeps our interest alive through humorous episodes and amusing and entertaining descriptions. In part IV, Gulliver as a mouthpiece of Swift goes very causing in identifying men of his country with the Yahoos. Here, Gulliver acts like a moral judge. The portrayal of Pedro de Mendez’s character shows that Gulliver (or even Swift) was not a hater of mankind.
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Give a character sketch of the Emperor of Lilliput.
The Emperor of Lilliput dortiinates the landscape and the story-line in Book I of ‘Gulliver’s Travels Gulliver finds the Emperor past his prime. He is twenty eight years and three quarters old. Out of these years, he had reigned for seven years in great joy coming out victorious over his arch-rival, the Emperor of Blefuscu.
The Emperor of Lilliput is a sharp featured and well shaped personality. His features are strong and masculine. He has an Austrian lip and arched nose.
The Emperor is basically a good natured and generous man. He makes elaborate arrangements for Gulliver’s boarding and lodging. After ensuring himself that Gulliver is no threat to him or his kingdom, he grants freedom to him. The Emperor keeps himself and his people in good humour. He holds contests to select competent and capable candidates for high offices in his kingdom. No candidate can hold a high office without showing his skill in dancing over a tight rope. The qualifications for selecting the right candidates may sound funny and ridiculous. But those are ways of autocrats and their whims.
The Emperor is a worldly-wise man who always plays safe in life. Only when the Emperor becomes certain that Gulliver can’t pose any threat to him in person or to his subjects that he orders for his freedom. He is not totally averse to the suggestion of Flimnap who thinks Gulliver a disaster for the economy of Lilliput. The man-mountain eats so much food that may support 1428 Lilliputians.
The Emperor is first and foremost a despot. He can’t digest that any man may disobey or ignore his directives and suggestions. When Gulliver refrains from destroying Blefuscu’s army and might completely, he can’t digest it. He grows cool and even indirectly supports the conspirators against Gulliver by not checking their moves. The Emperor of Lilliput may be a satirical sketch of George II of England and the constant war may be allusions to wars between England and France.
Give a character sketch of the King of Brobdingnag.
The King of Brobdingnag is a learned man. He had been educated in the study of philosophy, and particularly mathematics. He was not convinced of the description Gulliver gave of his arrival in the kingdom of Brobdingnag. The King wanted to prob all possibilities before arriving at decision. He interviewed the farmer privately and then his daughter and Gulliver. These observations led him to believe that perhaps Gulliver’s accounts about his voyage were true. The King took a great pleasure in conversing with Gulliver. He enquired regarding manners, religion, laws, government and learning of Europe. His ‘apprehension was so clear, and his judgement so exact’ that he made very wise reflections and observations on men and matters. The King had a very poor opinion of England and its institutions and practices. He observed ‘how contemptible a thing was human grandeur, which could be mimicked by such diminutive insect’ as Gulliver. The King observes that the history of Gulliver’s country is only a heap of conspiracies, rebellions, murders, revolutions, and so on. The people of Gulliver’s country suffered from hypocrisy, perfidy, cruelty, rage, madness, anger, lust and malice. He concludes by saying that the natives of Gulliver’s country were the ‘most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth’.
The King of Brobdingnag has aversion to wars and contempt for the weapons of mass destruction. Gulliver trying to win the favour of the King tells him about the invention of the gun powder. The King’s reaction is totally unexpected. He thinks that only some evil genius and an enemy to mankind must have invented such a destructive agent. The King doesn’t believe that the art of government can be learnt by reading hundred of books. The principles of common sense, reason, justice and leniency are the guidelines for running a good government. If Gulliver finds his views “narrow”, it may be due to the fact that he is totally isolated and cut off from rest of the world.
Write the Character sketch of Munodi.
Gulliver met Munodi at Lagado, the capital city of Balnibarbi. Munodi had been for some years the governor of Lagado. He had now been relieved of this post, though the king still treated him with great affection. Munodi was amiable in nature. He gave him a lot of knowledge about the people there. He was still following the old tradition of Lagado. So he had many enemies in the kingdom. He told Gulliver about the neglected state of the country. The houses were in ruins and people had to go without food and clothes. Overall he was worried about the state of his country. This showed his love for his country and native people. It was Lord Munodi who managed to get a guide for Gulliver through the Royal Academy in Lagado. He proved to be a great help and much to Gulliver’s interest.
Write the character sketch of the Projectors.
The people who make Lord Munodi’s life hell are the Projectors. They believe in pursuing science and philosophy without too much regard for practical outcomes. They pay little attention to their hygiene or grooming. They are completely absorbed in their projects. They focus on the complex and abstract things. It renders all of their grand plans totally useless in practice. They are totally obsessed with themselves. Gulliver claims that the political projectors go beyond normal human behaviour. They believe that government should be staffed by people who deserve their positions. They always look dejected and depressed.
Give a brief character-sketch of the Queen of Brobdingnag.
The Queen of Brobdingnag is a kind and gracious lady. She is delighted by Gulliver’s beauty and charms. She agrees to buy him from the farmer for a thousand pieces of gold. The queen seems genuinely considerate. She asks Gulliver whether he would consent to live in the palace. She accepts Gulliver’s request and allows the farmer’s daughter to stay with him in the palace. Gulliver appreciates her kindness. He shows his usual fawning love for royalty by kissing the tip of her little finger. The Queen becomes so fond of Gulliver’s company that she does not leave him for even for a moment. She takes particular care of Gulliver during his stay in Brobdingnag. She is by no means a hero but simply a pleasant and powerful person who is fond of Gulliver too much.
Write a character sketch of the King of Luggnagg.
The King of Luggnagg was the arrogant king like others in traditions as and when Gulliver went to meet the king. He had to lick the floor before the foot stool of the king as was the custom. On getting close to the royal throne, he had also to utter the following words as he had been instructed “may your celestial majesty outlive the sun, eleven moons and a half’. He was amiable in nature for Gulliver. So he was greatly pleased with Gulliver and ordered his officials to look after Gulliver properly and to show his every courtesy. Gulliver stayed three months in this country and was treated nicely.
Write the characteristics of Glubbdubdribbians.
The Glubbdubdribbians are a race of magicians. The Island has a Governor who raises people from the dead for a term of 24 hours (as ghost not zombies). There is another odd limit on his powers. The Governor can only raise a given person once every three months, so he can’t just keep raising the same guy every day. May be because it was a drag for the dead person to pop out of the afterlife all the time. Gulliver befriends the Governor, who offers to raise any dead person, wants to meet but only if Gulliver confines his questions to the period. This person was alive. Gulliver is really excited. On the first day, Gulliver calls up several famous heroes like Alexander the great who conquered all the Greece and Persia, Hannibai, a general from north Africa who fought the Ancient Romans by crossing the Alps into northern Italy, Julias Caesar, the first Roman emperor, and his chief rival Pompey, the great and Brutus who assassinated Caesar in an attempt to pressurise the Roman Republic from becoming a hereditary monarchy.
Write the character sketch of the Laputian king.
Just like the Lilliputian and Brobdingnag, the King of Laputa is a representative model of Laputian. This means that he is more than usually distracted. When Gulliver first goes to meet him, it takes an hour for the king to surface enough to notice that there is someone nearby. The Laputian King thinks Gulliver is O.K. but he does not love him, because Gulliver’s maths and music aren’t as good as the Laputians and they don’t care about anything else. The King could have become the most powerful monarch in the universe if his ministers had joined him in his enterprises. He has deep faith in his ministers so he fails to take any strict step against those who have revolted against the king’s right.
II. QUESTIONS ON THEME, PLOT AND EVENTS
What impression do you form of Swift’s attitude towards mankind after your reading of ‘Gulliver’s Travels?’ Would you describe Swift as a misanthrope…. a hater of mankind?
Swift has been giving his own comments on ‘Gulliver’s Travels ’ frequently. He points out very clearly in a letter to Pope that chief end of all his labour is ‘to vex the vyorld rather than divert it.’ He does not hate mankind but only likes to annoy or vex it by his condemnation of its unreasonableness. There is no doubt that Swift completely succeeds in exposing the irrationality, follies and absurdities of human beings in general. For this purpose, Swift resorts to allegorical satire.
Through ‘Gulliver s Travels Swift exposes the useless religious conflicts between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants. The Big-Endians and the Small-Endians represent the two major divisions of Christianity. Rope-dancing of the King of Brobdingnag represents Sir Robert Walpole’s skill at Parliamentary strategies and intrigues. The conflict between High-heels and Low-heels represent the conflict between two major political parties—the Whigs and the Tories. Similarly the annoyance of the Empress of the Lilliput with Gulliver for extinguishing a fire in her palace is a satirical allusion to Queen Anne’s annoyance with Swift for having written ‘A Tale of a Tub ’. There is no doubt that in Part IV of ‘Gulliver s Travels ’, Swift’s satire takes the form of denunciation and invective. Human beings are degraded and degenerated as ‘Yahoos’. The Houyhnhnms (the horses) in comparison are represented as the perfect specimen of nature. They , are free from lust, greed, competition and pride. Gulliver indulges in a sweeping condemnation
of his own countrymen, its political system, its judiciary, education, and the religious divisions. Even he refuses to return to his country or even to join his family. But it doesn’t mean that he hates mankind. The portrayal of Donpedro in Book IV shows that Swift is not a complete hater of mankind.
Evaluate Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ as a satire.
On the basis of your study of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ evaluate Swift as a satirist.
No doubt, Swift’s ‘Gulliver‘s Travels ’ is one of the greatest satirical works in English literature. , Swift adopted the form of a travelogue. He exposes individuals, communities and even mankind for their follies, weaknesses, vices and hypocrisies. Swift employs all the possible devices and weapons like irony, ridicule, mockery and even invective to lash human follies and weaknesses. Many critics believe that ‘Gulliver s Travels ’ is an allegorical satire. Here personalities and – institutions are attacked not directly but in a veiled manner.
All satires aim at reform. And so does Swift’s ‘Gulliver s Travels ’. Whether he succeeded or not is a different matter. He. himself deplores the fact that ‘accounts of his travels’ has brought about no change in the manners or behaviour or mentality of the people around him. Swift believed that man was not a rational animal but he was certainly “capable of becoming rational. Part I of ‘‘Gulliver’s Travels’ is largely a satire on English politics, politicians, monarchs and theological disputes prevailing in his times. Flimnap may remind of Walpole with his dancing skills on a tight rope. The conflict between the High-Heels and the Low-Heels symbolises the conflict between the Whigs and the Tories of England. The dispute between the Big-Endians ‘ and the Little-Endians may symbolise the constant fight between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants. In Part IV, Swift’s satire becomes universal.
Naturally, Swift’s severe and scornful condemnation of human race in Part IV sounds harsh and even unconvincing. It has led some critics to call Swift a ‘misanthrope’—a hater of mankind.
Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ is basically a novel of adventure and a tale of wonder of strange and wonderful lands. Elaborate and illustrate the statement.
First of all Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ is a novel of adventure and wonder of strange and wonderful lands. It is a fanciful account of unheard and unexplored regions and lands. Every voyage is a discovery in itself. Every time he goes on a fresh voyage, he encounters new dangers. In the course of his first voyage to Lilliput, he gets ship-wrecked and has to swim to the shore to save his life. During the second voyage, his ship encounters a fierce storm. Gulliver finds himself a captive by a giant and finds himself in the lands of giants Brobdingnagians. In the course of his third voyage, his ship is overtaken by pirates. They set him adrift on a small boat and he finds himself on an unknown island. In the fourth voyage, Gulliver is attacked by the members of the crew of his own ship. It is really a miracle and wonder of nature that after encountering so may dangers and hazards to his life, he returns home safely.
Gulliver’s strange experiences are highly amusing, exciting and interesting. In Lilliput we see human beings who are diminutives or dwarfs. They are hardly six inches in height. Gulliver, the man-mountain becomes an object of curiosity for the people wherever he goes. Equally exciting is the land of giants, Brobdingnag. For giants who are twelve times the height of Gulliver, he becomes ‘an object of curiosity’ here too. He looks like an insect. Even cats are three times bigger here than oxen in England. Laputa is another wonderful land with a flying island at a height of about 2 miles from the earth. The people have strange shapes and faces. Everything, even the eatables are given geometrical shapes. The Academy of Projectors works on many fantastic but impractical things. Gulliver talks to the ghosts of Alexander, Homer and Aristotle in Glubbdubdrib. The country of the Yahoos and the Houyhnhnms in Part IV presents an interesting contrasts. Here the Yahoos, which look like human beings, have all vices and evils. The Houyhnhnms, who are the horses, have all the noble virtues and perfections not present in human beings.
How did Gulliver find himself in the land of Lilliputians? Describe Gulliver’s experience in Lilliput.
Gulliver took up a surgeon’s job on a ship named ‘Antelope ’ bound for the south sea. The ship sailed from Bristol on 14th May, 1699. At first the voyage seemed to be progressing well. Then suddenly the ship was overtaken by a violent storm. The ship got wrecked. While most of the sailors were drowned in the sea, Gulliver was lucky that he was able to swim ashore. So by a stroke of fate Gulliver found himself in a unique land—the land of Lilliputians.
Gulliver’s first experience in the land of pigmies or Lilliputians was simply incredible. Rarely could he even imagine that men and women can be as small as of six inches. Similarly, everything was ridiculously undersized — houses, trees and animals. It was quite natural that in the land of Lilliputians, Gulliver was named ‘man-mountain’. The food and ration that was sanctioned for this man-mountain could support 1428 Lilliputians.
Gulliver had some of the most exciting and unique experience during his stay in the land of Lilliputians. He had to wait for his freedom. The King granted it only when he was sure that Gulliver was not a threat to himself or the people of Lilliput. The man-mountain must be utilised in the service of the kingdom. The best use of Gulliver could be made to humble and destroy the rival kingdom of Blefuscu. Hence, Gulliver’s act of seizing the biggest 50 ships of Blefuscu to Lilliput was not enough. The King of Lilliput would settle for nothing less than total destruction of Blefuscu. Flimnap and Bolgolam hatched a conspiracy against Gulliver. He was found guilty of
- making water within the royal precincts
- refusing to seize the remaining ships of Blefuscu
- having a secret meeting with the ambassador of Blefuscu
- going to Blefuscu only after getting a verbal permission from the King.
All these circumstances forced Gulliver to wade through the channel secretly and taking shelter in Blefuscu.
Gulliver records all social practices, cultural activities, petty political rivalries, strange customs during his stay in Lilliput. He describes the funny way of judging candidates’ skill and competence by dancing on a tight rope or jumping over or creeping down a stick held by the King. He also records the conflict between the Big-Endians and the Little-Endians. They fight on a ridiculously petty issue whether to break an egg at the big end or at the small end. Equally funny is the conflict between those who wear high-heeled shoes and the others who wear low-heeled shoes.
Describe how a secret conspiracy was hatched against Gulliver and the preparation of articles of impeachment against him for treason and other crimes. How did Gulliver escape secretly to take shelter in Blefuscu?
Things started going against Gulliver gradually in Lilliput over a period of time. It started with the Emperor becoming cool towards Gulliver. Gulliver disappointed him by not reducing the kingdom of Blefuscu to dust. The Queen herself was greatly annoyed at the way Gulliver extinguished a fire in her palace. The time was ripe for Flimnap (the High Treasurer) and Bolgolam (the High Admiral), the men hostile to Gulliver, to hatch a secret conspiracy against him.
One day an important person at the court who was very favourable to Gulliver, came to his house ‘very privately’ at night. He told Gulliver that Skyrris Bolgolam conspired in conjunction with Flimnap. They had prepared articles of impeachment against Gulliver. The Article I charged Gulliver of pulling the Empress by the arms and lifting her high in the air in both of his hands. The Article II charged Gulliver of disregarding the commands of the Emperor by not seizing all the ships of Blefuscu. Article III charged Gulliver of secretly meeting the ambassador of Blefuscu, the arch rival and enemy kingdom of Lilliput. Article IV accused Gulliver of preparing to make a voyage to Blefuscu for which he had received only a ‘verbal licence’ from the Emperor.
The treasurer and the admiral insisted that Gulliver should be put to the ‘most painful and ignominious death’. But on the request of Gulliver’s ‘friend’ Beldresal it was decided to make him blind in both the eyes and starve him to a slow death.
The most suitable course for him was to slip away from Lilliput and take shelter with the Emperor of Blefuscu. Gulliver, himself a giant could have caused maximum damage and destruction to Lilliput. So, one day, he waded through the intervening channel in order to reach Blefuscu where he was cordially received by the Emperor and his subjects.
Describe the social, cultural and political life of the people of Lilliput in your own words.
From the start the pigmies of Lilliput arouse interest and liking. They capture giant Gulliver who has come from a different world altogether. Gulliver gives a graphic picture of their efforts and ingenuity of transporting him to the Emperor on a specially made carriage. They make arrangement of his boarding and lodging. They provide him food and drinks sufficient to support 1428 Lilliputians. Flimnap (the Treasurer) rightly observes that Gulliver’s maintenance costs a great deal to the treasure. The mountain-man has become a financial liability. No doubt, every thing, from men, trees, houses to animals, looks disproportioned and undersized.
Gradually, Gulliver himself realises that Lilliput ceases to be a kind of Utopia. A Lilliputian . society lives under two constant fears. They have a violent faction at home—the opposition party. The Emperor belongs to the Little-Endians who believe and insist that eggs must be broken at the smaller end. The opposition, Big-Endians insist that it must be broken at the bigger end. Besides, there is a conflict between those who wear high-heeled shoes and those who wear low-heeled shoes. These conflicts are allusions to the religious and political conflicts going on in Gulliver’s England.
Lilliput has only one rival. The threat to its supremacy can come from Blefuscu. Here too, allegorically, through the mouth of Gulliver, Swift satirises the constant struggle between the arch rivals—England and France. Blefuscu stands for France.
Lilliputians have their own ways of doing things, however, funny or ridiculous they may appear. Gulliver records graphically how candidates for high offices have to show their skill in dancing on a tight rope and jumping over or creeping down a stick held by the Emperor himself. Gulliver reminds us that Flimnap of Lilliput is another Walpole who excels in political strategies and intrigues. Education was a state responsibility. There were public nurseries in every town. The children were encouraged to learn the virtues of justice, courage, modesty and patriotism.
Describe Gulliver’s arrival and stay in the land of giants, Brobdingnag recording his experiences about the land, people and their social and cultural life there.
From Lilliput to Brobdingnag, there was a reversal of the scale. While Lilliput represented pigmies, things were enlarged, extended and magnified to an incredible scale in Brobdingnag, the land of the giants. Gulliver had set sail on his second voyage in 1702. They were driven off course in a great storm. Land was sighted at last and the Captain sent a few members of the crew, including Gulliver, towards the shore in order to look for fresh water on the island. Gulliver ventured into the interior of the island leaving the other sailors. When he returned to the shore, he saw his boat hurrying away, chased by a man of huge size. Gulliver found himself trapped on the island of Brobdingnag, the land of giants.
The farmer brought Gulliver home. His nine-year-old daughter was highly fascinated by Gulliver and became her nurse. The farmer went from one town to the other holding public exhibitions of Gulliver charging a little fee for his display. When he came to the metropolis, the Queen herself saw such a unique and small creature like Gulliver. She was fascinated and bought Gulliver from the farmer in a thousand gold coins. The farmer’s daughter was retained as Gulliver’s nurse.
Gulliver became the domestic pet of the farmer’s daughter and the Queen. He was partly treated as a pet and partly as a freak of nature. He told the King about the European and English civilization. He described the political system, religious conflicts, wars, trade, etc. The King lifted Gulliver up and asked stroking him gently whether he was a Whig or a Tory.
The King of Brobdingnag yvas himself a learned man. He was not impressed by Gulliver’s account of his country. His country seemed to him only ‘a heap of conspiracies, rebellions, murders and revolutions’. The King didn’t believe that so many books were needed to run a government. Common sense, reason and justice were essential virtues to run a government. He vehemently rejected the offer of teaching the manufacturing of gun-powder.
Gulliver gave a graphic description of the country and people of Brobdingnag. The country was well-inhabited. It had 51 cities, about a hundred walled cities and a large number of villages. The metropolis, Lorbrulgrad, was situated on the either bank of a river. The shops were well stocked but the sight of beggars and the diseased women disgusted him. Gulliver had many mishaps. Once he had to save himself from huge rats. Once the dwarf put him into a large bowl of cream. On another occasion he was lifted by a dog in his mouth to his master. Gulliver had to save his life from the falling hail-storms. He could wade out with difficulty when he was fallen in the cowdung.
Describe the King’s adverse views about Gulliver’s country, his countrymen and the English institutions. How does he differentiate them with the customs of Brobdingnag?
The King of Brobdingnag was a learned man, well versed in philosophy and mathematics. He took a great pleasure in conversing with Gulliver. He often enquired about the manners, religion, laws, government and learning of Europe and England. Gulliver talked at length about his beloved country.
The King of Brobdingnag was not at all convinced by the accounts Gulliver had given of his country. The history of Gulliver’s country seemed to him only ‘a heap of conspiracies, rebellions, murders, massacres and revolutions’. The people of Gulliver suffered from many voices like avarice, hypocrisy, cruelty, rage, madness, hatred, envy, lust, malice and so on. He observed, “how contemptible a thing was human grandeur which could be mimicked by such diminutive insects” like Gulliver. The King was highly critical of wars and the instruments of mass destruction like the gun-powder. He vehemently rejected Gulliver’s offer of teaching them the art of making the gun-power. Nor was the King impressed by many books written in England on the art of government. He held that honesty, reason and justice must dominate people to run the government. Whoever could grow two ears of com and a blade of grass did more essential service to his country than all the politicians put together.
Gulliver had his own differences in such things. He thought that King’s ideas were due to his “narrow outlook”. The King couldn’t be blamed totally as he was totally cut off from rest of the world.
Describe Gulliver’s voyage to Laputa, its people and customs and the new marvel ‘The Flying Island’.
The ship sailed away to Tonquin on 11th April, 1707, where the Captain decided to stay for some time. He gave Gulliver a sloop (ship) and a few sailors to sail away if Gulliver so desired. The sloope was overtaken by pirates. They put him on a small boat and set him adrift. After 5 days Gulliver touched an island. Gulliver suddenly saw a huge opaque body between himself and the sun moving over the island. It was two miles above the island. He was surprised to see human beings moving about on that body. They let down a chain with a seat fastened at the lower-end. Gulliver got into the seat and was drawn upwards by means of pulleys. So Gulliver found himself on an island in the air—the ‘Flying Island’.
Gulliver found strange people with unique faces and shapes. Their hands were all reclined either to the right or the left. These people were masters and they were followed by their servants called ‘flappers’. The masters were totally lost in their intense speculations. They could neither speak nor listen to others. They had to be roused by the flappers’ by striking a bladder on their mouth or ear. Music and Mathematics were the principal interests of these people. They were hardly concerned with anything else. Their ideas found expression through lines and figures. Even to describe the beauty of a woman, they expressed it in geometrical terms such as circles, parallelograms, or by musical terms. The people of Laputa never lived in peace even for a moment. They always thought about heavenly bodies. They feared that one day the sun will swallow the earth. They never cared for their women. Their women were easily attracted towards strangers.
‘The Flying Island’ of Laputa was circular with a diameter of about four miles and a half. The ‘Flying Island’ could be made to rise and fall and move from one place to the other. It had one limitation. It couldn’t move beyond the extent of the king’s dominions. Nor could it rise above the height of four miles.
Describe Munodis’ account of the futile schemes in Lagado (Balnibarbi). Also describe Gulliver’s visit to the Academy of Projectors and the School of Political Projects in Lagado and his views about them.
Gulliver left Laputa and arrived in Lagado, the capital of Balnibarbi. He met a man called Munodi for whom Gulliver had a letter of recommendation. He had been the governor of Lagado for some years but was removed from his post for “insufficiency”. Munodi told how so many futile schemes had been launched in Lagado and Balnibarbi. These schemes were launched by a group of experts. They visited Laputa and were impressed by the schemes there. When they came back, they established an Academy of Projectors in Lagado. It was inspired by the model of Laputa. None of the projects achieved any good results.
In Lagado, Gulliver paid a visit to the Academy of Projectors. There he met the warden and a number of projectors in charge of various projects. Gulliver met a bearded man who had been engaged for 8 years upon a project. He was trying to extricate sunbeams out of cucumbers. Another man at the Academy had been aiming at restoring human excrement to its original food. One of the Projectors was trying to calcine ice into gun-powder. There he saw a blind man engaged in mixing colours for painters. He could distinguish colours by his sense of touch or smell. One Projector had found a device for ploughing with hogs.
Some Projectors had developed a method by which even an ignorant person could produce books on philosophy, poetry, politics and law.
Gulliver also visited the School of Political Projects. The professors were busy developing a large number of schemes. They were preparing a kind of medicine necessary to keep legislators in a fit mental condition. They would not talk any nonsense during the rest of the session. Some other novel schemes included
- ways of raising funds through taxation
- self assessment taxes
- investigation of plots and conspiracies and so on.
Gulliver found that all those fantastic schemes were only in the air. They had no relation to the existing ground realities. Such futile and utopian projects, however unique and ambitious they appeared, were bound to fail.
Describe Gulliver’s visit to the island of Glubbdubdrib and his talking with the ghosts of the dead souls.
The word “Glubbdubdrib” meant the island of magicians. The head of the tribe and all its members were magicians. The tribe married among themselves. The eldest in succession became the governor. His skill in magic must enable him to summon any one from the kingdom of the dead. The governor could command the services of all the persons for 24 hours. On his arrival at the island of Glubbdubdrib, Gulliver sought an interview with the governor. He was entertained by the governor at dinner. It was an incredible sight. A large number of ghosts served the meals and waited at the table.
The governor asked Gulliver to suggest the name of any dead man whom he would like to talk. Gulliver wished to meet Alexander the Great. At a movement of the governor’s hand, Gulliver’s wish was fulfilled. Alexander was summoned into the room. Gulliver wanted to know about his death. Alexander told him that he didn’t die after being poisoned. He had died of a fever caused by his excessive drinking. After Alexander came the ghost of Hannibal. He told that the historical account of his crossing the Alps was wrong. Some of the other important personalities whose ghosts were summoned included Brutus, Socrates, Cato and Sir Thomas More. Gulliver felt honoured and uplifted by conversing with the ghosts of such great persons. At Gulliver’s request the governor summoned Aristotle and Homer. Aristotle freely admitted his own mistakes in natural philosophy. They were based on conjectures. The governor also summoned the ghosts of European kings. Some of the kings had barbers, fiddlers, and clergymen among their ancestors. Gulliver also came to know a whore. She had been able to govern a country through her influence over her powerful lover in the senate. Perjury, oppression, fraud and sycophancy had played a great part in moulding the course of history.
Describe Gulliver’s arrival in Luggnagg and his experience after seeing the immortals in Luggnagg.
From Maldonada Gulliver boarded a ship for Luggnagg. Anyone who wanted to appear before the king had to crawl upon his belly. He had to lick the floor as he advanced. Gulliver carried out the ritual. The king was highly pleased with Gulliver’s visit and ordered his officials to arrange for his boarding and lodging. Gulliver enjoyed the warm hospitality of the people for three months there. The people of Luggnagg were gentle and generous. Gulliver was told that existed some persons in Luggnagg who were immortal. They were called ‘Struldbruggs’. Gulliver thought them very fortunate as they were free from the fear of death.
Gulliver was asked what were his views about immortality. Gulliver wanted to make himself extremely rich first. Then he would devote himself to the study of arts and sciences. Lastly, he would record the behaviour and actions of all the immortal rulers and statement.
Gulliver would never imagine that even immortality could lead to untold miseries and sufferings. The immortals of Luggnagg were not so happy and fortunate as he had thought them to be. He was shocked and surprised to know that the ‘immortals’ of Luggnagg longed and wished for death. And death didn’t come to them. They were peevish, morose and vain. They were incapable of friendship. They were dead to all love and affection. Whenever they saw a funeral, they wished and prayed for death. They presented the most shocking sight he had ever seen. The women among them looked more horrible than men. After seeing the terrible spectacle of immortality, Gulliver no longer wanted to become immortal.
Do you think that Swift’s attack on mankind and human race through Gulliver in part IV of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ convincing? Do you justify calling Swift, a misanthrope?
Part IV of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ is the strongest and loudest denunciation of mankind and human race. Such attacks were never found anywhere in English literature. Through the character of Gulliver, Swift lashes and whips follies and vices of the ‘Yahoos’ of human race. He appears to be a hater of mankind. In Part IV, Gulliver gives expression to his misanthropy and cynicism. In contrast, the Houyhnhnms or the race of horses is portrayed as being far superior to human beings. They are superior mentally, morally and even physically. In Part IV Gulliver expresses an aversion to mankind and even to the members of his own family. It doesn’t match Gulliver’s criticism of mankind in the Parts I, II and III of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’. So judging Swift as a misanthrope, on the basis of Part IV alone will be a little unfair to such a great writer.
Part IV of‘Gulliver’s Travels’ portrays three kinds of beings,
- Human beings are represented only by the countrymen of Gulliver,
- ‘The Yahoos’ symbolise mankind in general. They represent all the vices and none of the virtues associated with it.
- Part IV, of the book presents the Houyhnhnms or the horses. They represent ‘perfection’ in nature.
Gulliver thinks that most of his countrymen were ruined by vices like the law suits, drinking and gambling. They are indulged in treason, theft, murder, perjury, robbery, rape, sodomy, envy, pride, greed, malice and so on. Next comes Gulliver’s account of wars and the causes of wars. Gulliver’s denounces lawyers, judges, doctors, ministers and officials. Vast numbers of his countrymen earn their living by begging, robbing, cheating, pimping, flattering, forging, gambling and lying.
The portrayal of the ‘Yahoos’ intensifies the satire on the human race. The ‘Yahoos’ represent the evil nature of human beings. The Houyhnhnms have no conflicts, controversies and wrangling among them. They suffer from no disease. Friendship and benevolence are their principal virtues. They are decent, civil, hard working and clean in the highest degree.
Why was Gulliver expelled from the country of Houyhnhnms? Why did he develop a feeling of disgust for his fellow human beings and his family? Describe Gulliver’s reaction to his re¬union with the family.
One day the master of Houyhnhnms sprang a big surprise on Gulliver. He told Gulliver of the decision that was taken at the last assembly of Houyhnhnms. It was decided that Gulliver belonged to the race of Yahoos. He couldn’t live in the company of Houyhnhnms for ever. Gulliver received a big shock. He considered even death better than that expulsion. Gulliver didn’t know where to go. But he bowed down before his fate and built for himself a canoe. After bidding a touching farewell to his master and others, he sailed away from the shore. And soon afterwards, a Portuguese ship sighted and lifted him up from the canoe.
Gulliver was not at all happy to see people belonging to his race. He had started hating them. In fact, he didn’t even wish to go to his own country. However, the Portuguese Captain had to use all his persuasive powers to make Gulliver agree to return to his own country. On 24th November, 1715, Gulliver boarded an English ship and sailed for England. After landing, he went to his house at Redriff on the same day. Gulliver was received by his wife and family with great surprise and joy. There was no spontaneous overflow of emotions and love. On the other hand, Gulliver was only filled with hatred and digust on seeing his wife and children. He seemed to have turned to he a misanthrope—a hater of mankind. When his wife kissed him, he felt terrified and miserable. He remained unconscious for an hour. Gulliver couldn’t forget the sweet memories of his stay among the Houyhnhnms. He started writing an account of his travels and his strange experiences. With the money he was able to save, Gulliver bought two young horses. He treated them very kindly and regarded them as his true companions.
Compare and contrast ‘the Yahoos’ and ‘the Houyhnhnms’ highlighting their features, life¬styles, social practices, etc. as described in Part IV of Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’.
Gulliver seems to be highly impressed by the virtues and noble qualities of the Houyhnhnms, the race of horses. These quadrupeds have no place for falsehood, concealment and deception. They are lovers of truth and have no notion of lying or falsehood. Gulliver thinks that the Houyhnhnms represent ‘perfection in nature’. If the Houyhnhnms represent ‘perfection’, the ‘Yahoos’ represent ‘degeneration’ in nature. Like the people of England who have greed for costly stones or diamonds, the Yahoos love shining stones. They drink the juice of a root that has the same effect as liquor has on the people of Gulliver’s country. The master of Houyhnhnms describes that the Yahoos are the only animals in the country subject to any diseases. They cure their diseases by taking a mixture of their own dung and urine. The female Yahoos share the lewdness and coquetry that are common traits of all womankind. The whole account of the Yahoos is meant as a satire on the human race. All the vices attributed to the Yahoos are precisely the vices afflicting mankind everywhere.
The Houyhnhnms are endowed with all virtues. The supremacy of reason is acknowledged. Friendship and benevolence are the two principal virtues among the Houyhnhnms. They preserve decency and politeness in the highest degree.
Hardwork, tolerance and cleanliness are virtues inculcated among the young ones of both the sexes. The noble virtues in the Houyhnhnms fascinate Gulliver. He wants to stay among them for ever without even thinking of going to his country or home.