Part 2, Chapters 5–8
Gulliver relates several accidents which occurred to him while he was living at the court in Brobdingnag. Once, he was walking under an apple tree when the queen’s dwarf shook a bough over his head and he was hit by an apple “near as large as a Bristol barrel.” Another time, he was so bruised by a hailstorm that he could not go out for the next ten days. He was picked up by the gardener’s dog, almost carried off by a kite, and fell up to his neck in the hole beneath a mole hill. Glumdalclitch would also take him to see the queen’s maids of honor, who would strip him naked and lay him across their bosoms, which he greatly disliked, as their smell was offensive. One day, he went to see an execution, in which the criminal was beheaded with a sword forty feet long, and his head bounced half a mile away when he was decapitated.
Gulliver designs a rowing boat, which the queen’s joiner makes for him and which he rows in a specially made trough of water inside the palace. A frog which gets into the water by mistake briefly endangers his life, but his greatest peril comes from a monkey, which gathers him up and takes him outside onto the palace roof. He is rescued by a footman but sustains several injuries. The king enquires what passed through his mind when he was in the monkey’s grasp and what he would have done if this had happened in his own country. Though Gulliver answers him solemnly enough, he soon perceives that the king is laughing at him. He has become an object of ridicule to the whole court. Even Glumdalclitch, though she takes good care of him, is apt to tell the queen of any incidents involving Gulliver which might amuse Her Majesty.
Gulliver describes how he made a comb out of the stubble shaved from the king’s face and wove chairs, after the manner of cane chairs on frames, out of the hairs collected in the queen’s comb. He also learns to play a basic tune on Glumdalclitch’s spinet, with the aid of two sticks to strike the keys.
Gulliver also has serious conversations with the king. In one of these, the king asks him to give an account of the way in which England is governed, in case there might be anything in the system worth imitating. Gulliver is eager to boast about the greatness of England and tells the king about the House of Lords and the House of Commons, the courts of justice, the treasury, and common sports and pastimes among the English. He finishes with a brief account of the last century of English political history. This discussion takes at least five audiences, followed by another in which the king asks numerous questions and raises objections. He asks principally about how the governors of England are chosen and what provision is made for their education. He also enquires into the particulars of the justice system and the financial management of the realm, observing that the English must be a very quarrelsome people to spend so much money on wars. He says that the historical account Gulliver has given him is nothing but “a heap of conspiracies, rebellions, murders, massacres, revolutions, banishments, the very worst effects that avarice, faction, hypocrisy, perfidiousness, cruelty, rage, madness, hatred, envy, lust, malice, and ambition could produce.” The king’s conclusion, from all that Gulliver has told him with great enthusiasm and partiality, is that the majority of the English must be “the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Gulliver apologizes to the reader for the contents of the previous chapter, since he loves his country and hates to hear the king abuse it. He offers the excuse that Brobdingnag is so remote from European civilization that the king cannot be expected to understand it. He demonstrates the king’s lack of perspicacity by relating how he offered to share the secret of making gunpowder with him, explaining what this invention is and how it...
(The entire section is 1,051 words.)