Gulliver's giant feet walking in the diminuative forest of the lilliputians

Gulliver's Travels

by Jonathan Swift

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How does Gulliver escape from Lilliput in Gulliver's Travels?

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Gulliver discovers he is going to be accused of high treason in Lilliput. He also learns that, due to the "great leniency" of the ruler, he will only have to submit to having his eyes put out by having arrows shot into them while he is tied to the ground. Not wanting to lose his eyes, he decides to leave early on his planned trip to Blefuscu.

He takes a Lilliputian ship—which is easy since the Lilliputians are so tiny—by lifting up its anchor, and puts his clothes into it. Then, swimming and wading and dragging the ship, he crosses the channel. He arrives at Blefuscu and, through good fortune, finds a ship big enough to carry him away from all the tiny people of the Lilliputian lands. The emperor is glad to help him leave and sets 500 people to work making him sails. On September 24, 1701, as Gulliver reports, he sails away.

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Gulliver actually escapes from Lilliput fairly easily: after falling out of favor with the Emperor of Lilliput, Gulliver walks across the channel separating Lilliput from Blefuscu, and then from there he finds a boat, sails away, and is eventually picked up by an English ship. 

Gulliver's need to suddenly escape to Blefuscu can be seen as a satire of the fickle nature of European court culture. Just as Gulliver quickly falls out of favor with the Lilliputian elite, so too did popular courtiers run the risk of becoming suddenly very unpopular, often for trivial reasons. Such a position was often very dangerous, and a punishment similar to the one Gulliver narrowly escapes (being blinded, starved to death, etc.) was probably not out of the ordinary in many European courts. In this way, Swift points out that perhaps being a member of the ruling elite is not as enviable a position as one might think.  

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How did Gulliver land in Lilliput?

Gulliver’s visit to Lilliput is presented in chapter one. Author Jonathan Swift describes how, while traveling on a ship headed from England toward the East Indies, a storm hits. Many of the crew are killed, and the others are severely weakened. Although they see a rock not too far away, the strong winds blow them straight into it and the ship is wrecked. Some of the men set off in a lifeboat, but it capsizes.

What became of my companions in the boat, as well as of those who escaped on the rock, or were left in the vessel, I cannot tell; but conclude they were all lost. For my own part, I swam as fortune directed me.

Gulliver swims until he is exhausted, and he is pushed ahead by the wind and waves. He realizes that he is close to death and is about to give up the struggle.

Then I found myself within my depth; and by this time the storm was much abated. The declivity was so small, that I walked near a mile before I got to the shore.

He presumes that he is the only passenger who makes it to the island.

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