In Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, why does the emperor stand at a distance while surveying Gulliver, yet still give him food and water?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Gulliver later learns that the Lilliputians spent some time considering what to do with him, especially when he first arrived.  The emperor initially seems to keep his distance from Gulliver because, on the one hand, it would best guarantee his safety, and, on the other hand, he needs time to consider what ought to be done with this giant man.  They have no idea what kind of a creature Gulliver is, and, because of his size, they automatically assume that he will be dangerous to them.  Then, as Gulliver finds out later on, the leaders of Lilliput actually did consider starving him at first because they knew that it would be very expensive to feed him.  However, since Gulliver immediately expressed his hunger and thirst when he first awakened, it seems that the Lilliputians probably fed him in order to buy time to consider what to do with him.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial