Gulliver's Travels Questions and Answers
by Jonathan Swift

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How does Gulliver reach Brobdingnag?

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Gulliver describes himself as "condemned, by nature and fortune, to active and restless life," and about two months after he returns from Lilliput, he leaves home again to seek new adventures. The ship is blown far off course by numerous storms and strong winds, and though everyone is safe and healthy, the crew finds that they are now experiencing a scary shortage of water. Finally, one day, they spot land, and Gulliver "desire[s] . . . leave to go with them, that [he] might see the country, and make what discoveries [he] c[an]." When the small group arrives on the coast, they see no sources of fresh water and no sign of inhabitants. Gulliver wanders off by himself while the other men go to look for water; he discovers that the land looks totally barren and rocky—unlikely to satisfy their needs—so he heads back toward the others. However, he says, "I saw our men already . . . in the boat, and rowing for life to the ship" with "a huge creature walking after them in the sea as fast as he could." In other words, he is abandoned by the other members of the crew because they have to run for their lives from this huge creature! At this point, Gulliver takes off in the direction from which he came and finds an area that was "fully cultivated." He takes a road through a field and eventually comes to a farm.

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The short answer is: by accident. A restless, adventure-starved Gulliver sets sail from Bristol. His destination is India. But a voyage involving Gulliver just wouldn't be the same without some trouble on the high seas; and so it proves once more. One day, a sudden westerly wind whips up and knocks Gulliver's ship, the appropriately named Adventure, off course. The ship is forced to land at the Cape of Good Hope, where the crew spends the winter. Then the Adventure takes to the sea once more, and everything seems plain sailing until it passes along Madagascar. For twenty terrifying days, the ship is battered by a violent, savage storm which drives it off course completely.

Eventually, the ship finds dry land. Gulliver and a party of men step ashore to fetch water. Gulliver becomes separated from the men, and when he returns to the shore, he's shocked to discover the other men rowing furiously away in the distance towards the ship, followed by a giant creature. Gulliver is all alone on Brobdingnag, the land of the giants.

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