Gulliver's Travels Characters
by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver's Travels book cover
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Gulliver's Travels Characters

The main characters in Gulliver’s Travels include Lemuel Gulliver, the emperor of Lilliput, and Gulliver’s Houyhnhnm master.

  • Lemuel Gulliver is the story’s narrator and protagonist, a well-educated member of the English gentry, and a ship’s surgeon. His voyages around the world turn him into a misanthrope.
  • The emperor of Lilliput belongs to a race of miniature people, the Lilliputians. He first welcomes Gulliver, then turns against him when Gulliver refuses to attack Blefuscu.
  • Gulliver’s Houyhnhnm master belongs to a peaceful society of sentient horses. Like all the Houyhnhnms, who regard the human-like Yahoos as beasts, he is entirely honest and reasonable.

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Characters

Lemuel Gulliver

Lemuel Gulliver is the protagonist, the narrator, and by far the most major character, providing the only connection between the four parts of the narrative. He is a minor member of the English country gentry, the son of a small landowner. He received a good education at the ancient universities of Cambridge and Leiden, then became a surgeon, practicing mainly on board ship. Apart from his love of travel, Gulliver has few consistent character traits, since one of his most important roles is to provide a foil for the society in which he finds himself in each part of the narrative, or for a particular character. In part 1, for instance, he shows no particular patriotism, but in part 2, he suddenly becomes a zealous apologist for England when engaged in conversation with the king of Brobdingnag. His experiences and hardships, particularly his observations of the Yahoos in part 4, have made him a misanthrope by the end of the book.

The Emperor of Lilliput, Golbasto Momarem Evlame Gurdilo Shefin Mully Ully Gue

The emperor of Lilliput at first appears an ideal prince. He is tall by Lilliputian standards, handsome, and accomplished. He receives Gulliver graciously and supplies his considerable needs for food, clothing, and accommodation. He also sets Gulliver free and bestows upon him the title of nardac (equivalent to a duke in England) for his capture of fifty Blefuscudian warships. However, immediately after this, the emperor turns against Gulliver, revealing an ungrateful and tyrannical side to his nature. When Gulliver refuses to help the emperor to enslave Blefuscu, the emperor agrees with his ministers that Gulliver should first be blinded, then starved to death. The reader’s final impression of the emperor, therefore, is that he is cruel and treacherous. In this, he seems a fitting representative for his people.

Finance Minister Flimnap

The finance minister is well-known as the best tightrope performer at court and, since this is regarded as a qualification for high office, one of the ablest ministers. He comes to hate Gulliver, principally because he is suspicious of his wife and believes that she visits Gulliver secretly. Gulliver assures the reader that there is no foundation for these suspicions and that Flimnap merely has a suspicious mind after participating in court intrigues for so many years.

Admiral Skyresh Bolgolam

Skyresh Bolgolam is the supreme commander of the Lilliputian navy. He has few obvious character traits beyond his cruelty, deviousness, and hatred of Gulliver, which Gulliver protests he has done nothing to cause.

Secretary Reldresal

Reldresal is Gulliver’s closest friend and takes his side in the court councils where his future is discussed. However, his idea of clemency in that Gulliver should be blinded rather than murdered, and he even tacitly acquiesces to the plan to starve Gulliver to death. Though relatively well-disposed to Gulliver, he is not, therefore, a particularly true or constant friend, and is portrayed as a fairly typical devious Lilliputian minister.

The Emperor of Blefuscu

Although the emperor of Blefuscu only appears briefly at the end of part 1, he treats Gulliver kindly and helps him to return home. Gulliver trusts him and remarks on his generosity and grace. However, he had exactly the same...

(The entire section is 1,115 words.)