Why was the king of Brobdingnag horrified when Gulliver described war? What innate characteristics of the king can we infer from his reaction?
The king of Brobdingnag is horrified when Gulliver describes how gunpowder and cannons can aid in defeating one's enemies. He is further incensed when Gulliver offers to teach the king and his people how to fashion such instruments of warfare. Far from being grateful, the king actually rebukes Gulliver for his blood-thirsty ways.
The king contends that Gulliver must be inhuman indeed if he can contemplate the 'scenes of blood and desolation' caused by 'such destructive machines' with any sort of acceptance. The king reassures Gulliver that he is not opposed to any ' new discoveries in art or in nature,' but he is absolutely against hearing any more about the machinations of war.
From the king's reaction, one can infer (conclude from evidence and reasoning), that the king is a conscientious ruler who is as adverse to political intrigue as he is to war. From the chapter, we are told that the king despises 'all mystery, refinement, and intrigue, either in a prince or a minister.' Later, Gulliver makes an important discovery about Brobdingnag through conversation and the reading of Brobdingnag history books. It appears that the country was once besieged by its own civil wars caused by a 'nobility often contending for power, the people for liberty, and the king for absolute dominion.'
It was the king's grandfather who put an end to the Brobdingnag civil wars; since then, the militia has been retained to keep the peace in the isolated kingdom. Because of its history of civil wars, the king is not especially enthusiastic about the prospect of any of his countrymen mastering the art of making gunpowder. Based on evidence in the text, we can also infer that the king is an idealist: he believes that suffering can be prevented by depriving his enemies of the means of warfare.