Summary of Gulliver's travel part 1

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Summary of Part I: A Journey to Lilliput

Gulliver sets off on the ship Antelope to the South Seas, but strong winds wreck it. Gulliver lands on an island and when he wakes up he finds himself tied to the ground. A large number of little men (no larger than Gulliver’s hands) keep him prisoner and when he tries to break free, they attack him with arrows. Gulliver stays still not to get hurt. Then they bring him food and drink and plan to take him to the king but still tied with strings. He is given a house, an old church, but Gulliver is still tied to the wall of the church. Lilliputians think he is dangerous. Some men attack Gulliver and when the king’s men throw them to Gulliver, he pretends he is going to eat them, but then sets them free. Gulliver  is kind, so the king will not kill him, and he teaches Gulliver their language. The king promises to untie Gulliver’s strings if he follows his written rules. Gulliver hands over his belongings: his sword and his guns. Now he can walk again.  Gulliver learns about the war between Lilliput and Blefuscu and offers to help the king: he pulls forty large Blefuscu ships to Lilliput. The king is happy, but as he is very ambitious he wants Gulliver to help him kill the Big-enders, enemies of his people, the Little-enders. Gulliver refuses to do so. The people from Blefuscu and Lilliput finally put an end to their war. The king of Blefuscu invites Gulliver to his island. Gulliver finally decides to leave Lilliput and goes to the enemy island.  After a short stay at Blefuscu, Gulliver leaves for home.

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On this voyage, Gulliver goes to the sea as a surgeon on the merchant ship,?Antelope. The ship is destroyed during a heavy windstorm, and Gulliver, the only survivor, swims to a nearby island, Lilliput. Being nearly exhausted from the ordeal, he falls asleep. Upon awakening, he finds that the island's inhabitants, who are no larger than six inches tall, have captured him. After the inhabitants examine Gulliver and provide him with food, the Emperor of this country orders his subjects to move Gulliver to a little-used temple, the only place large enough to house him.


In this first chapter, Swift establishes Gulliver's character. He does this primarily by the vast amount of details that he tells us about Gulliver. Clearly, Gulliver is of good and solid ? but unimaginative ? English stock. Gulliver was born in Nottinghamshire, a sedate county without eccentricity. He attended Emmanuel College, a respected, but not dazzling, college. The neighborhoods that Gulliver lived in ? Old Jury, Fetter Lane, and Wapping ? are all lower-middle-class sections. He is, in short, Mr. British middle class of his time.

Gulliver is also, as might be expected, "gullible." He believes what he is told. He is an honest man, and he expects others to be honest. This expectation makes for humor ? and also for irony. We can be sure that what Gulliver tells us will be accurate. And we can also be fairly sure that Gulliver does not always understand the meaning of what he sees. The result is a series of astonishingly detailed, dead-pan scenes. For example, Gulliver?gradually?discovers, moving from one exact detail to another, that he is a prisoner of men six inches tall.

Concerning the political application of this chapter, note that Gulliver is confined in a building that was emptied because a notorious murder was committed there. The building probably represents Westminster Hall, where Charles I was tried and sentenced to death.


to alter my condition?to marry.

hosier?a haberdasher, a person whose work or business is selling men's furnishings, such as hats, shirts, neckties, and gloves.

four hundred pounds for a portion?The part of a man's money or property contributed by his bride; here, meaning Gulliver's dowry.

East and West Indies?East: Malay Archipelago; especially, the islands of Indonesia; West: the large group of islands between North America and South America; it includes the Greater Antilles, Lesser Antilles, and the Bahamas.

Van Diemen's Island?former name for Tasmania.

declivity?a downward slope or sloping, as of a hill.

several slender ligatures?the ropes used to tie Gulliver to the ground.

buff jerkin?a short, closefitting, sleeveless jacket or vest made of soft brownish leather.


hogshead?a large barrel or cask holding from 63 to 140 gallons.

retinue?a body of assistants, followers, or servants attending a person of rank or importance.

Signet Royal?an official seal.

express?a special messenger; courier.

soporiferous medicine?medicine that causes or tends to cause sleep.

latitude?angular distance, measured in degrees, north or south from the equator
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