Gulliver's Travels

Author: Jonathan Swift

By: Jordan Bittinger

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Brief Summary

Visualize yourself heading out to sea with several other men, when suddenly you’re shipwrecked. You decide to head to the land you see in the distance, and when there, fall asleep. When you awake in the morning, you are tied down with nowhere to go. Suddenly, all you see are tiny people surrounding you and walking all over your body. What would you do in this situation? For Gulliver, this incident was just the beginning of the crazy events he was about to encounter. The book Gulliver’s Travels written by Jonathan Swift tells the story of a young man named Lemuel Gulliver who is fascinated by the sea. The book tells of all of his adventures that he goes through and the things he sees, hears, learns, and the struggles he faced. Gulliver started his first voyage with a group of men in May 4, 1699. After they are shipwrecked, Gulliver decides to travel to the nearest island which he later finds out is named Lilliput. At this island, he is the tallest one there, because everyone is less than six inches tall. The country does everything they can to provide Gulliver with food, clothing, and supplies and Gulliver also assists them by stealing Lilliput’s neighbor, Blefuscu’s fleet. Even though Gulliver helped the country, the King isn’t pleased with all of his decisions and is forced to leave the country, where he escapes to Blefuscu. He then finds a boat and sails out to sea where he is taken by another ship which takes him back home. Later, Gulliver decides to head out to sea again and is abandoned until a farmer who is 72 feet high finds him. Gulliver is now in Brobdingnag, and is taken care of by the farmer’s daughter, Glumdalclitch. The farmer uses Gulliver as a sort of exhibit where people pay him to observe Gulliver. Later, Gulliver is sold to the queen and a house is built for him. When he talks with the King, he discusses the country of Europe and the use of guns and cannons, which upsets the King. Gulliver then decides to look at the sea and when he is there, an eagle flies by and picks up his box, where he is flown over the sea and then rescued by sailors who take him home. Gulliver heads out again and is attacked by pirates and is then on the floating island of Laputa. Gulliver learns that the people in this country are not normal at all and are not in touch with reality. He then takes a trip to Glubbdubdrib where he sees the figures of military leaders and Julius Caesar which does not impress him. Later after he visits Luggnagg and Struldbrug, he sails to Japan and then back to England. On his last adventure, he is the captain and arrives in a land where there are Houyhnhnms and Yahoos. Houynmnms are rational-thinking horses who rule the country and the Yahoos serve them. Gulliver learns their language also, and tells them of his journeys. He also explains the constitution of England to them. When the Houyhnhnms think that Gulliver is just like a Yahoo, he is banned from the country. He finds himself a canoe and goes to another island where there is a ship captain who is Portuguese. Gulliver then begins to see every human as a Yahoo and concludes his voyage by saying that all of the countries he visited belong to England. I really enjoyed reading this book because all of the adventures that Gulliver went through were fascinating to read about. I thought that it was almost strange that he wanted to set sail even though he encountered some bizarre events, but that adds to the new adventure. I also thought that the book was very well written. Jonathan Swift did an excellent job of describing the different countries and the people in full detail and I was able to get a picture of his adventures in my head while reading, which I enjoyed. I would definitely recommend this book to other students because it was suspenseful and I never wanted to put the book down at parts. It also gives the reader a chance to use their imagination and creative ways of thinking.

Main Characters

Lemuel Gulliver

Gulliver is the main character and also the narrator of the book Gulliver's travels. He is the third of five sons and studied at Emanuel College in Cambridge at the age of 14. Gulliver becomes an apprentice to Mr. James Bates, who is a surgeon in London and he lived with him for four years. Years later, Gulliver accepted an offer from Captain William Prichard, a master of the Antelope who was making a voyage to the South Sea. This was where the beginning of Gulliver's journey started. Throughout the book, Gulliver endures many strange circumstances and has to adjust to the languages and lifestyles of the places he visits. Although he is a master navigator and a brave man, Gulliver rejects human society and is forced to live the rest of his life as a recluse, with only the company of horses.


On Gulliver's second voyage, he meets the farmer who found him and his daughter named Glumdalclitch. She is nine years old and forty feet tall and becomes Gulliver's friend and also serves as his nurse. Glumdalclitch does everything she can to keep Gulliver taken care of and safe. She also teaches him about the country and the language of the country of Brobdingnag. The little girl also makes him new clothes and a travel case that she can carry him in. Gulliver is almost like a doll to her or even a pet. After Gulliver is sold to the queen, the queen tells Glumdalclitch that she can live at the court with them so she can take care of Gulliver.


During Gulliver's last voyage, he ends up on a land which has Houyhnhnms, rational horses who live a simple life with a society that is peacfuly governed by reason and truthfulness. These horses are not like any horse, even though they look the same. Houyhnhnms are greatly intelligent and wise. They put the needs of the community before themselves and their life is somewhat socialist republic. Houyhnhnms are served by Yahoos, which are humanlike creatures. Gulliver grows very fond of the Houyhnhnms and wishes that he could stay with them. Even though he is in awe of them, the Houyhnhnms begin to think that Gulliver is a Yahoo because he looks sort of like one. He is then banned from the country, but Gulliver decides on his return home to England that he relates to horses more than his actual family, resulting in a recluse lifestyle. The Houyhnhnms have a major impact on Gulliver because he now hates humans, and only loves horses.


The setting of this book is in the early seventeenth century. It also takes place in England and all of the countries that Gulliver travels to which are Lilliput, Blefuscu, Brobdingnag, Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, Japan, and the land of the Houyhnhnms.

Turning Point

A turning point in the book was on Gulliver's fourth voyage. During this voyage, Gulliver decides to reject human society. He made this decision after several encounters with different societies and learning about their customs and beliefs. A main reason he decided to reject human life was when he thought of Don Pedro, the Portuguese captain as a Yahoo. Because of this, he is forced to live the rest of his life as an unhappy recluse whose only company is his horses which remind him of Houyhnhnms.


-There are several outcomes in the book Gulliver's Travels. For example, by Gulliver wanting to go to sea and explore, it lead to several new adventures and encounters with new people. When he first went to the island of Lilliput, he was seen as a creature with great abilities to help the country out, but was later forced to leave the country. The reason for this was because he refused to reduce the island nation of Bleufuscu which upset the King and he was charged for treason for other crimes.

-Another outcome that Gulliver encountered was when he wanted to look at the sea in Brobdingnag. Because of his decision to be by the sea, an eagle came by and took him and his traveling case out to sea where he was dropped. This lead Gulliver to be rescued by some men at sea and taken back to his home in England.

-When Gulliver went on his third voyage, his shipped was attacked by pirates which forced him to go to a nearby island. This lead Gulliver to the flying island of Laputa where he learns about their resources and experiments.

-On Gulliver's final voyage to the land where there are Houyhnhnms, he learns about their different way of life and principles. The experiences and new things he learned lead him to make a final decision of rejecting human society and only loving horses for the rest of his life.


Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver's Travels. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1963. Print.

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