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Gulliver in Lilliput
Jonathan Swift’s "Gulliver’s Travels" tells the story of Lemuel Gulliver, a ship’s surgeon who has a number of rather incredible adventures, comprising four sections." In Book I, his ship is blown off course and Gulliver is shipwrecked. In spite of his dilemma, Gulliver is at first impressed by the intelligence and modern abilities of the Lilliputians.
In Chapter II, the Emperor of Lilliput arrives to take a look at the "giant," and Gulliver is equally impressed by the Emperor and his countries. They are elegant and richly dressed, and the Emperor attempts to speak to Gulliver civilly although they are unable to understand one another. “His Imperial Majesty spoke often to me, and I returned answer, but neither of us could understand a syllable.” It is in this chapter
that Gulliver first asks to be freed and is refused by the Lilliuts.
As Chapter III opens, Gulliver and his captors have become great friends. Anyone desiring a high position at court is required to jump up and down on a tightrope stretched six inches above the floor (and remember Lilliputians are only six inches high). Only those who are able to do it win the office, and anyone wishing to remain in office may be asked to do it again. If he fails, he’s out the door, and a successful rope-dancer takes his place. Gulliver remarks that it would seem that noble birth or a fine educational background would seem to be better predictors of one’s ability to govern than dancing on a rope, but the Lilliputians find no sense in that. A similar "trial" requires office-seekers to jump over or crawl under a stick, sort of a combination vault and limbo exercise. The Emperor, who holds the stick, raises or lowers the stick suddenly and without warning, so the performer is obliged to change tactics midstream. Winners receive a snippet of colored thread, which they wear on their clothing with great pride. Gulliver delights the Emperor by inventing some new forms of entertainment, also; one involves making the calvary perform military maneuvers on the drum-taut surface of his handkerchief, stretched above the ground, but when a rider is thrown, Gulliver stops the game. At the end of this chapter, Gulliver is freed after agreeing to nine silly conditions.
The first thing Gulliver does in Chapter IV is visit the capital city, Mildendo. Again, he is tremendously impressed by the Lilliputian’s technological and organizational skill, as evidenced by the beauty of their city. Now that he is an "insider", Gulliver is told of the political problems besetting the country, both from the inside and from the outside. The domestic problem is an intense feud between people who wear low heels (such as the Emperor) and people who wear high heels, whom the Emperor would like to see out of power. Unfortunately, however, the Emperor’s son has a fancy for high heels himself, but his fear of his father causes him to wear a low-heeled shoe on one foot and a high-heeled shoe on the other; this is why he limps. Lilliput is also under threat of invasion from a neighboring country, Blefuscu; the nature of their aggression seems to be religious. Apparently the current Emperor’s grandfather initiated a new religion which demanded that believers break their eggs on the smaller end. Many Lilliputians refused to do so, as since time immemorial their creed had been to break their eggs on the larger end, and they insisted on their right to do so. This caused them to emigrate to Blefuscu, and now that country, bolstered by its new angry citizens, is planning an invasion against Lilliput.
Gulliver in Brobdingnag
Gullivers next voyage was to Brobdingnag. It was very unexpected there was a great storm a Gulliver was left on the seashore. “Scared and confounded as I was, I could not forbear going on with these reflections, when one of the reapers approaching within ten yards of the ridge where I lay, made me apprehend that with the next step I should be squashed to death under his foot, or cut in two with his reaping-hook. Pg 99” He was found by a Brobdingnag native, the creature brought Gulliver to a near by farmers house. There the creatures were
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Gullivers Travels, Brobdingnag, Lemuel Gulliver, Lilliput and Blefuscu, Gulliver, Jonathan Swift
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