In Gulliver’s Travels, excrement symbolizes the crude reality of human flesh, a fact Gulliver faces most prominently in the filthy, feces-flinging bodies of the Yahoos. Yet excrement occurs in every other one of his other adventures too: in Lilliput, Gulliver defecates on the floor of his Lilliputian home and urinates on the Lilliputians’ burning palace; in Brobdingnag, flies defecate on Gulliver’s food and maids urinate in front of him; in Laputia, the projectors attempt to transform human feces back into food. The recurring appearance of excrement anchors the novel in the body’s demands, limits, and inelegances, refusing to let its characters float off into the heady realm of purely elegant abstractions.
Excrement Symbol Timeline in Gulliver's Travels
The timeline below shows where the symbol Excrement appears in Gulliver's Travels. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 2
Book 1, Chapter 5
...novel by candlelight. Gulliver, having no instrument to put out the fire, extinguishes it by urinating on it. Though he has saved the palace, Gulliver knows that he has also broken... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 1
Book 2, Chapter 3
Book 2, Chapter 5
Book 3, Chapter 5
...many bizarre projects: one is working on extracting sunbeams from cucumbers; one on turning human excrement back into food; one on turning calcine ice into gunpowder; one on building houses from... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 1
Book 4, Chapter 7
...hoard food; overeat; purge; suffer sickness from immoderation (which is cured by eating their own excrement); seek intoxication; live in filth; suck up to their leaders, then throw their excrement at... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 8