Please explain the following quote from Gulliver's Travels."...I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to...

Please explain the following quote from Gulliver's Travels.

"...I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth."

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

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In speaking with the King of Brobdingnag, Gulliver discovers that their culture is very different from his own; they are peaceful and moralistic, and Gulliver decides that although somewhat naive, they are superior to English culture because they do not purposefully wage war. The quote in question comes just after Gulliver has detailed some of his culture's history; the King is astonished at the violent nature of Western culture and admonishes Gulliver:

"As for yourself," continued the king, "who have spent the greatest part of your life in travelling, I am well disposed to hope you may hitherto have escaped many vices of your country. But by what I have gathered from your own relation, and the answers I have with much pains wrung and extorted from you, I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth."
(Swift, Gulliver's Travels, eNotes eText)

The King is not being intentionally insulting, but merely stating what to him is an unalienable fact; the people of the Western cultures are prone to extreme and -- in his view -- unjustifiable violence. The King even reacts with horror when Gulliver offers to make gunpowder; in Brobdingnagian culture, this sort of violence is unheard-of. If Gulliver's stories are true, his culture is so mindlessly violent that the King wishes to avoid them at all costs. After all, despite their technological and scientific progress, there is little progress on a human level; Western individuals are not raised by virtue of their intellect or morality, but by power and money. Compared to Brobdingnag, England are barely vermin, because they value material accumulation rather than moral insight.

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