An Essay Assessing How Gulliver’s Interview

With The King Of The Brobdingnag Is A

Satirical Exposure Of British Institutions and Human Nature

From Gulliver’s Travels, Book II

In book two of Gulliver’s Travels, Gulliver is stranded on an island inhabited by Giants, twelve times his size (the same proportions as the Lilliputians). A farmer finds Gulliver and looks after him. He then sees Gulliver as an opportunity to make some money, and takes him into town as a sort of ‘freak show’, for paying customers. The Queen of Brobdingnag takes an interest in Gulliver and purchases him from the farmer for a sum of money. The King however believes Gulliver to be an ingenious clockwork contraption, but three of the Kings great scholars find him to be real, living and fairly intelligent. After getting a fairly basic knowledge of the language which was spoken in the strange country, Gulliver proceeds to describe his home land in detail at the king’s command.

Gulliver starts his speech by proclaiming to the reader that he wished that he could, “use the tongue of Demosthenes or Cicero that might have enabled me to celebrate the praises of my own dear native country in a style equal to it’s merits and felicity.” This shows that Gulliver wishes to show the King how amazing and wonderful England is, just as the Lilliputians in Book 1 wished to show Gulliver how their country is. This is probably due to the fact that the little people (Lilliputians and now Gulliver) want to impress the larger and better people in an attempt (although not directly) to show that they are just as good although, not in size.

Gulliver starts by talking about layout of England, Ireland Scotland and Wales, then the House of Peers (House of Lords) and the House of Commons who help to rule the country. When talking about these people he describes them as noble, champions and honourable. He then moves on to the courts of law and justice which are used to settle disputes between persons and for the punishments of crimes. Gulliver also decides to compute the population of Great Britain and also decides to include some of the sports and pastimes, thinking it to be dishonouring his country if he didn’t. He also gives, “a brief historical account of affairs and events in England for about a hundred years past.”

All of this takes Gulliver five audiences with the King each lasting several hours, in which the King constantly takes notes on what Gulliver had said and also questions to ask, after the speech. “When I had put an end to these long discourses, his Majesty in a sixth audience, consulting his notes, proposed many doubts, queries and objections, upon every article.” One of the questions asked by the King is about the Houses of Peers and Commons. He asks Gulliver whether a strong and well-filled purse helped at all in bring the Bishops and other ‘important’ men into the House of Peers or Commons. This shows how the Author hates the corrupt government and how money for bribery is the only qualification for power; not good plans and men voted for by the rest of the population. Another question that the King puts forward is how lawyers, “Had liberty to plead in causes manifestly known to be unjust, vexatious, or oppressive.” This shows the Authors hate of the law and how lawyers were just playing games against each other to see who can win, and that it does not matter about the case, whether they are defending someone who is obviously guilty or in a case that has absolutely no proper meaning or relevance.

Gulliver then gives many more descriptions of different types of questions that the King poses towards Gulliver and at one part gives a set of examples extremely close to the truth. The satire in this is how the King already had the right answers but Gulliver probably wouldn’t give the same answers, because he couldn’t see past his pride of England to the real truths.

The King first of all puts many questions forward about the Justice system with many small features that altogether show how imperfect the Law actually is and then goes on