Gulliver's Travels


Jonathan Swift

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Gulliver's Travels: Book 2, Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Gulliver weaves the Brobdingnagian queen a purse out of her own hair and builds a human-sized instrument to play music to entertain the court. He offers to teach the Brobdingnagian king about the governance of state in Europe, which the king agrees to. Over the course of several multi-hour lessons, Gulliver proudly describes England’s land holdings and divisions of government, hoping his words can do his country justice.
Growing more and more accustomed to his new perspective, Gulliver is able to contribute to the society around him by making crafts and sharing his knowledge of England.
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After having heard five of these lessons, the Brobdingnagian king is unsatisfied and pummels Gulliver with questions and protests of disbelief. After the next such lesson, he takes Gulliver gently in hand and caresses him as he says, “you have made a most admirable panegyric upon your country; you have clearly proved that ignorance, idleness, and vice…qualify…a legislator; that laws are best…applied by those whose interest and abilities lie in perverting, confounding, and eluding them.” The king goes on to note that he has also learned that England’s priests, soldiers, judges, and senators are without merit. He concludes by saying that his observations of Gulliver and Gulliver’s reluctance to answer his questions has instructed him that Englishmen are “the most pernicious race of little odious vermin.”
The king’s reaction gives further evidence that “truth” is not objective but subjective: it’s created by perspective. Whereas Gulliver thinks that he’s praising England and painting a grand portrait of his nation for the Brobdingnagan king, the king hears only a pitiable account of England’s evils and weaknesses.
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