Describe Gulliver's experience in Lilliput.

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Gulliver arrives in Lilliput accidentally, after the boat that he used to escape from his sinking ship is swamped by waves. He awakes on a beach to find himself bound by strings and surrounded by tiny Lilliputians, who are at a loss as to what to do with him. First they shoot arrows at him, causing him much irritation, but eventually Gulliver convinced the people he meant no harm, and was warmly received. The emperor lodged him in the temple, the only structure big enough to house him, and feeding him became a major state expenditure. Gulliver is eventually granted his freedom, but is ordered to stay in the kingdom by the Lilliputian emperor. He experiences the party divisions in the city between people who wear thick soles on their shoes, and those who wear thin ones, and eventually serves the Lilliputians in their war with nearby Blefuscu by capturing their tiny navy. When Gulliver refuses to completely destroy the Blefuscudian fleet, he falls out of favor with the Lilliputian emperor, and further offends the royal family by putting out a fire at the temple by urinating on it. Accused of treason (in part as a result of his decision to "make water within the precincts of the royal palace,") he leaves Lilliput for Blefuscu.

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favoritethings | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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When Gulliver first wakes up in Lilliput, he feels a desire to suddenly seize forty or fifty of the tiny Lilliputians and "dash them against the Ground." He doesn't act on this urge because he remembers the sting of their arrows and does not wish to relive the experience. However, his unnecessarily violent wish might, perhaps, shed some light on a point that Swift is trying to make about human nature. Gulliver seems to feel the desire to squash the Lilliputians for no other reason than that he can; are humans naturally disposed to assert our physical superiority and might over those who are weaker than we are? After all, when Gulliver lands in Brobdingnag, he expects to be treated in the same way he considered handling the Lilliputians.

Gulliver also undergoes an inventory of his pockets by the Lilliputians. One of the items they find there is his watch, and they determine that it is likely "the God he worships" because "he seldom did any Thing without consulting it." Gulliver seems to confirm this when he tells them that the watch "pointed out the Time for every Action in his Life." Again, Swift seems to be commenting on humanity's flaws: is it right, even healthy, to be so bound to the clock? Shouldn't we eat when we're hungry, and not when the clock tells us? Shouldn't we sleep when we're tired, and not when the clock dictates? Why do we insist on becoming slaves to the clock when our own bodies and minds can tell us when we need something or when we're finished with something?

Gulliver also notes the unusual ways that candidates for public offices are appointed.  It has nothing to do with their qualifications for the job, but rather with their ability to jump highest on a tightrope or succeed in a trial of dexterity. Further, he remarks on the long-standing feud between those groups which war over which end of the egg to crack: the big or the small. Over ten thousand people have died as a result of this conflict. In a rare moment of insight, Gulliver states his opinion that this decision should "be left to every Man's Conscience [...] to determine." In this way, Swift continues to poke fun at England: both in terms of how, often, considerations that have little to do with qualification go into helping people to achieve high positions as well as the Protestant-Catholic conflict that raged for a great many years and likewise resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths.

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