How can I write a character sketch of the Queen of Brobdingnag?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To write a character sketch, think about how the descriptions of the queen paint a portrait of her and reveal her personality. For example, the Queen of Brobdingnag is a kind though somewhat silly person who treats Gulliver, who is much smaller than the inhabitants of her land, as a kind of pet. When she first encounters Gulliver, she is delighted with him and asks his master if she can purchase Gulliver from him. Gulliver tells her the story of his mistreatment at the hands of his former master and the queen is "surprised at so much wit and good sense in so diminutive an animal." She brings him to the king, who at first treats Gulliver dismissively until the queen, with her intelligence and wit, commands Gulliver to give an account of himself. The queen kindly instructs a carpenter to construct a bedchamber for Gulliver and orders clothes to be made for him out of the finest silk.

The queen, who also keeps a dwarf as a kind of pet, grows so fond of Gulliver that she cannot dine without him, and she keeps him by her elbow at the table. However, she does not really understand his fears at being so little, and she does not understand why he is so bothered by giant flies. The queen also constructs a rowboat and trough for Gulliver, in which she and members of her court enjoy watching him row. She is amused by Gulliver and is generous, but she is not particularly deep or insightful, as she doesn't understand Gulliver's struggles as a tiny person in her kingdom. 

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A character sketch outlines the nature of a character in a work of literature. Any assertions made about the character must be illustrated with quotes (or paraphrases) from the work to support your argument. It's important to include quotes to show that this is not your subjective opinion of the character but a text-based and objective argument. 

That being said, this text doesn't offer that much information about the Queen of Brobdingnag, which means we need to focus closely on what Swift does tell us while  keeping in mind that this is a satire in which events are being filtered through the mind of the often clueless Gulliver. How does Gulliver initially react to the Queen's large size? How do his impressions change and what does that say about her and also the prejudices we hold based on appearance? Why do you think she is one of the only female characters in the work that Gulliver pays any real attention to? What does her reaction to her dwarf's mistreatment of Gulliver say about her? Why does Gulliver think she is witty? As you address these questions and gather more insights about the Queen, be sure to find quotes to back yourself up. 

Read the study guide:
Gulliver's Travels

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