In Gulliver's Travels, how could Gulliver's visits to Lilliput and Brobdingnag be explained through Freud's theory of dreams?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When discussing dreams, Sigmund Freud claimed that "Gigantic persons in a dream justify the assumption that the dream is dealing with a scene from the dreamer's childhood" ( While Gulliver's Travels is not presented as a dream, but as the real experiences of the author, the two extremes of human height in Lilliput and Brobdingnag could be seen as the physical interpretation of Gulliver's childhood memories. For example, to the Lilliputians he is a giant, able to perform feats of strength far beyond their wildest imaginations. To the Brobdingnagians, he is smaller than any other person, and so is both of great interest and something to be protected from harm. The first scenario shows Gulliver as an adult, while the second as an infant. It is interesting to note that in both cases, Gulliver is at the mercy of the opposite number; the Lilliputians try to blind him, while the Brobdingnagians could crush him with a finger. In either case, Gulliver would seem to have some sort of issue both with his parents and with his own status as an adult; even though he should be as powerful as he remembers his parents to be, he is still subservient to the Lilliputians and unable to direct his own destiny without a great deal of trouble.