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In Gulliver's Travels, what virtues of Brobdingnag are seen as admirable?

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macgregorm | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 14, 2012 at 2:02 AM via web

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In Gulliver's Travels, what virtues of Brobdingnag are seen as admirable?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 28, 2012 at 4:50 PM (Answer #1)

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Although Gulliver is disdainful of most of the Brobdingnagian customs, he does show some interest in their method of lawmaking. Earlier, his offer to give the secrets of gunpowder to the king are met with horror and disgust, as the Brobdingnagians are peaceful and have no desire to destroy others. In reading through their lawbooks, Gulliver discovers an odd aspect of rule-making:

No law in that country must exceed in words the number of letters in their alphabet, which consists only of two and twenty. But indeed few of them extend even to that length. They are expressed in the most plain and simple terms, wherein those people are not mercurial enough to discover above one interpretation...
(Swift, Gulliver's Travels, eNotes eText)

While this seems to be a strange and arbitrary rule, it also lends simplicity to the rule-making process. Instead of pages upon pages of dense and indecipherable legalese, the laws are simple and give themselves only one interpretation; in addition, attempts to apply a second interpretation are seen as crimes. This allows even the least educated citizen to easily understand the laws of the country, giving little scope for legal abuse or misunderstanding. Gulliver does not directly praise this system, but he also does not dismiss it as he does other aspects of Brobdingnag.

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