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Changes In The Character Of The Protagonist In The Novel Gulliver's Travels

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Gulliver’s Travels is a book written by Jonathan Swift with an intriguing plot filled with characters that complement one another. This novel begins with the main character, Lemuel Gulliver, being described as an English surgeon. After his business failed, he decides to travel the seas on a voyage. Lemuel’s first journey begins after his ship wrecks and he wakes up as the only survivor in a place called Lilliput. He is tied up by six-inch tall people called Lilliputians while he is knocked out. They are considerably nice to Lemuel by feeding him almost all of their food but are not afraid to use their violence against him. Lemuel is taken to the Lilliputian’s emperor where he is asked to help defend their capital from their enemies, Blefuscu. He does a good job of defending them until he attempts to put out a fire in the capital with his urine and is sentenced to death for treason. Luckily, Lemuel escapes to Blefuscu where he finds a boat to repair and returns to England.

Lemuel doesn’t stay in England but for two months then sets out for his second voyage to a place called Brobdingnag. This new place is filled with giants where a worker in a field finds him and sells him to the queen as entertainment. During his time there, he teaches the king about the English government but is never rewarded for it. His unpleasant stay in Brobdingnag lasts two years and ends when an eagle picks his cage up during a trip to the beach. After the eagle drops him in the ocean, an English ship crew finds him and brings him back to his homeland.

Just a few weeks later, Lemuel sets sail again on a journey to the East Indies but ends up stranded on a deserted island after being attacked by pirates. The people of Laputa come down and take them to their city above the clouds. This place takes a different turn in the novel because the residents of this place are slightly insane. They are all philosophers who spend their days thinking about pointless things. After he grows bored with them, he goes to the country below Laputa named Balnibarbi. This place is filled with less educated people who wander around thinking. After becoming frustrated with the barely educated people there, he travels to the neighboring island of Glubbdubdrib. In this place, he meets the governor of Glubdugribb who gives Lemuel a gift to bring dead people back to life and talk to them. Here, he talks to the deceased people and finds out that he has been lied to about history. He also meets an immortal race called the Stuldbrugs who are desolate. After this, he begins his journey through Japan back to England.

Lemuel’s last voyage begins when he finds himself in a position as a captain of a new voyage. His crew ends up rebelling against him and leaving him behind and he washes up in the kooky land of Houyhnhnms which is inhabited by horse people called Houyhnhnmians. He lives in their clean and constructed society for several years but is constantly bothered by their neighboring civilization. These people were humans called Yahoos throughout. The Yahoos are beasts who contrast the Houyhnhnms with their dirty and unorganized lifestyle. Lemuel learns about the different cultures of people and how they live throughout all of this.

Gulliiver’s Travels is filled with interesting characters that work together to create a unique story. The main character of this novel is an English man named Lemuel Gulliver. He is a surgeon who is seeking an adventure and starts it by going on voyages. Through his exploration, he meets other characters in various places. Some of the most important include the Lilliputians and their emperor, The Brobdingnagians and their king, The Laputians and their king, the farmer, the queen of Brobdingnag, the Laputian men, the governor of Glubbdubdrib, the Houyhnhnms, and the Yahoos. The journey begins with the Lilliputians who are six-inch tall people who tie Lemuel up and use him in their battles. Their emperor is a rude man who ruled over the Lilliputians and sentenced Lemuel to death for putting a fire out of his capital with his urine. The Brobdingnagians were giants that Lemuel met on his second voyage out to sea. These people were very nice compared to the other civilizations he met in the story. The farmer was a Brobdingnagian man who took care of Lemuel and their king used him to learn about England’s monarch. Their queen is who bought Lemuel for her entertainment and accidentally let him escape. The men of Laputa were well-educated wanderers who could be considered as philosophers. Lemuel eventually got bored with them and found the governor of Glubdubdrib who gave him the powers to bring back the dead and communicate with them. The last place Lemuel visits is Houyhnhnms which is inhabited by horse people. These people are surprisingly very intelligent. The neighboring civilization of the Yahoos are beast-like humans who the Houyhnhnms respectively hate.

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It is difficult to choose someone to be the second most important character in Gulliver’s Travels because Lemuel is the main character we follow throughout the book. Don Pedro de Mendez is also an extremely important character because he has symbolic importance in the book. In terms of the plot, he doesn’t do much since we only see him for a brief amount of time. We meet him at the end of the story when he helps Lemuel out and keeps him from going completely insane. Lemuel has gone through a lot through his journey. He has been tortured and almost murdered for years. Don Pedro is a Portuegese captain who finds Lemuel after he is kicked out of the city of Houyhnhnms and takes him back to Europe. He provides generosity to Lemuel by giving him new clothes and a safe ride back home.

Gulliver’s Travels can be related to my life in many ways. The point that stands out most is how I would personally love to travel the world and go on voyages like Lemuel. I think that I would have the time of my life exploring other countries and meeting people who don’t share the same culture as me. Although I want to travel, I don’t think I ever could because of how scary it seems. There are many countries you could never convince me to go to even though I would end up loving it there. I feel like it could be very dangerous to go to some countries in the world. This can relate to Lemuel because he was tortured and almost murdered in some of the places he went to. I would not like to be held captive in a foreign country for years like Lemuel Gulliver.

Some repeated themes of Gulliver’s Travels would be individual vs. society, the limits of human understanding, and power vs. ethics. The most important theme is individual vs. society. This is because the majority of the conflicts in this novel is between Lemuel and the community he is around. Throughout the story, he is met with the differences between the lands he travels to and his homeland. Following this, Lemuel also comes into conflict with how he doesn’t know everything he necessarily needs to know in life or about life. An example of this would be the people of Laputa, who spent their days contemplating theoretical ideas. Power vs. ethics is displayed by Lemuel not knowing if power should be chosen by ethics or not. Another way to describe this would be if physical strength should overpower morals. Lemuel struggles with this idea when he is met with the difficulty of trying to understand the ways different governments and societies are run.

Lemuel Gulliver is an extremely admirable character in this novel. This is because of his endurability, bravery, and curiosity. Throughout the book, Lemuel remains curious and ready to explore whatever is next in line. He deals with being harassed by all of the societies he goes through and then keeps going on his voyages. His bravery is also shown through this. He never seems too scared or feels like he can’t do something and doesn’t give up. His curiosity is most admirable because it is an important trait to have. Being curious makes you a better person and keeps you learning.

Throughout the novel, Lemuel changes many times. His shifts come with different societies he is in and how important he is. An example of this would be how in his first voyage he felt like a king because he was extremely helpful and the people needed him because he was a giant compared to him. In his second voyage though, he felt like a vermin because he was surrounded by giants and this time he was the small one. Lemuel’s changes in character differed between good and bad. They also affected how the audience views him and their opinion on him. Most of these changes were slight but at the end of the novel, we see a drastic change as he becomes miserable and defeated. At the beginning of this story, Lemuel was a man who was excited to explore the world but by the end, he just wanted to go home and end the torture.

Gulliver’s Travels is an amazing book filled with an intriguing plot and characters that fascinate the reader. In this novel, there are developments and introductions of many characters that compliment each other and make up the plot. I have found ways to relate this story to my personal life. There was also an interesting way that the main character changed throughout the story and it was overall a very interesting book.

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Changes In The Character Of The Protagonist In The Novel Gulliver’s Travels. (2021, August 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from
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