Here you will find a Gulliver's Travels summary (Jonathan Swift's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.
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The chronicles revolve around Lemuel Gulliver, a pragmatic English surgeon turned voyager who embarks on oceanic journeys after his professional downfall. Gulliver, with a dry, objective narrative voice seldom revealing any profound emotional insight or introspection, describes the extraordinary encounters on his travels. His first adventure in the miniature kingdom of Lilliput unfolds when diminutive captors discover him post-shipwreck. They are simultaneously awed and threatened by him, using force fearlessly despite their miniature weaponry. Despite this, they are largely warm-hearted, extending their hospitality even at the risk of their own resources. Gulliver's size and strength are eventually exploited in the Lilliputians' conflict against their rivals, the Blefuscudians. However, charges of treason are raised against him when he extinguishes a palace fire using his own urine. Gulliver then escapes to Blefuscu, repairs a boat, and sails back to England. Upon his brief return home, Gulliver soon embarks on another sea exploration, landing him in the land of the colossal beings of Brobdingnag. Initially treated like an exotic pet, he is eventually sold to the queen and becomes a court entertainer. Despite his comfort, Gulliver finds himself disgusted by the magnified physical imperfections of the giant Brobdingnagians. His encounters with the gigantic fauna are perilous, and their trails on his food make consumption a challenge. His journey in Brobdingnag concludes when an eagle seizes his cage and drops it into the sea. Subsequent travels take him to the floating island of Laputa and its oppressed underlying region Balnibarbi, inhabited by frivolous scholars and academics. After a detour to Glubbdubdrib, where he conjures historical figures, and the land of the senile immortals, the Struldbrugs, he sails to Japan and eventually back to England. In his final voyage, Gulliver lands in an unknown territory inhabited by the rational, horse-like Houyhnhnms and the brutish, humanoid Yahoos. Despite his desire to dwell with the civilized horses, his humanoid physique leads to his banishment. Stranded on a nearby island, he is rescued by a Portuguese ship captain. However, Gulliver now perceives all humans, including the captain, in the degrading light of the Yahoos. His narrative concludes with a dubious claim of England's colonial proprietorship over the lands he's traversed.
Lemuel Gulliver shares his life story, starting with his upbringing in Nottinghamshire as the third of five sons. Unable to afford his studies at Cambridge, he moves to London and apprentices under a surgeon, James Bates, learning mathematics and navigation. After his apprenticeship, he furthers his studies in physics at Leyden, then becomes a surgeon on the Swallow ship for three years. Post his tenure at sea, he works as a doctor in London, marries Mary Burton, but is forced back to sea when his patron passes away, causing his practice to fail. He spends six years at sea, planning to return home. However, he accepts a job on the Antelope. In the East Indies, the ship faces a calamitous storm, killing twelve crew. Gulliver and five others escape onto a small boat, which capsizes. Gulliver swims to shore, losing sight of his crew, who disappear. Exhausted, Gulliver rests on the shore, waking to find himself bound by threads. He can barely see due to the sunlight, but feels movement on his body. Looking down, he sees a tiny human carrying a weapon. More tiny humans climb onto him until he shouts in surprise, making them flee. They return, and one shouts, "Hekinah Degul". Gulliver frees his left arm and loosens his hair to turn his head, but the tiny people attack him. He decides to lie still until dark, hearing them construct a platform beside him. Unable to comprehend their language, he indicates hunger and thirst, and they supply meat and wine. Despite their small stature, Gulliver admires their bravery, refrains from hurting them, and appreciates their hospitality. A tiny official informs Gulliver he's to be taken to their capital city on a wooden frame hauled by 900 men. Though he wishes to walk, it's rejected. Instead, they transport him half a mile to the city, where his leg is shackled to a large temple, allowing just enough mobility for him to walk around the temple in a semicircle and lie inside it.
After being chained to a structure, Gulliver is permitted to stand and survey the picturesque rural landscape. He compares the tallest trees, not exceeding seven feet in height, to a scene from a theatrical play. Gulliver goes into detail about his hygiene habits, explaining how he relieves himself indoors before switching to the outdoors. His waste is collected and removed by servants in wheelbarrows, an act he believes proves his cleanliness against critics. The plainly dressed emperor, armed with a sword for protection, visits Gulliver from his tower. Despite their attempts to communicate, a language barrier exists. Some soldiers, disregarding orders, try to shoot Gulliver with arrows. When punished, Gulliver saves them from harm, winning favor with the court. Two weeks later, Gulliver receives a bed stitched together from 600 smaller ones. As word of his existence spreads, villagers flock to see him and the government debates his fate. Some fear he may wreak havoc or cause a famine, while others worry about the potential health risk of a giant corpse. News of Gulliver's mercy towards misbehaving soldiers reaches the council, leading the court to treat him with kindness. They provide food, servants, clothes, and language tutors for him. Despite his daily pleas for freedom, the emperor insists on patience. He also orders a search for weapons, leading to Gulliver's disarmament.
Gulliver, who is making good progress with the Lilliputians, longs for liberation. The miniature emperor amuses him by arranging performances like the Rope-Dancers. These dancers, prospective government employees, must jump high on slender threads to secure positions. The reigning ministers engage in this activity too, to demonstrate their ongoing agility. The emperor comes up with another amusement by placing three colored silk threads on a table. The candidates must either leap over a stick or crawl under it, with the most nimble winning a ribbon. Gulliver creates a makeshift stage with sticks and his handkerchief for horsemen to perform on. Although the emperor takes pleasure in watching, the spectacle ends abruptly when a horse pierces the handkerchief. Realizing the potential danger, Gulliver decides to stop the horse performances. Gulliver’s hat, which was washed away, is found by some Lilliputians. He requests them to return it and the emperor, in turn, asks Gulliver to imitate a giant statue, allowing his troops to pass underneath him. Finally, Gulliver’s pleas for freedom bear fruit. However, he must abide by certain conditions, including helping the Lilliputians during war, surveying their territory, aiding in construction, and delivering important messages. Gulliver consents to these terms and is unshackled.
Once Gulliver is free, he visits Mildendo, the Lilliputians' capital. All residents stay inside, observing Gulliver from their rooftops and windows. The town, surrounded by a wall, is a 500 feet square space housing 500,000 people. Gulliver is guided by the emperor to see the royal palace in the city center. To view things at a closer perspective, Gulliver creates a stool from chopped trees which he carries around. About a fortnight later, a state official, Reldresal, visits Gulliver. He shares that the kingdom is threatened by a rebel group and a foreign empire. The kingdom is split into two factions, the Tramecksan and Slamecksan, identified by their different heel heights. The emperor has chosen to employ primarily the Slamecksan, known for their lower heels. The emperor himself has the lowest heels but his successor has uneven heels, causing a lopsided walk. The Lilliputians are also fearful of an invasion from Blefuscu, referred to by Reldresal as the “Other Great Empire of the Universe.” The Lilliput philosophers doubt Gulliver’s claims of other human-sized countries, suggesting he might have fallen from the moon or a star. Reldresal narrates the history between the two nations. He explains a past law commanding Lilliputians to crack their eggs on the smaller end resulted in six rebellions. This law was enacted after the then emperor cut his finger breaking an egg the traditional way - larger end first. The people resented this and those involved in the rebellion sought refuge in Blefuscu. The government of Blefuscu accused the Lilliputians of violating their religious doctrine, the Brundrecral, by breaking their eggs at the small end. The Lilliputians defended themselves, arguing that the doctrine is open to interpretation. Reldresal reveals the rebels received support from Blefuscu to wage a war against Lilliput, causing a continuous war between the two nations. Gulliver is asked for help in defending Lilliput. Gulliver, although hesitant about intervening, offers his services to the emperor.
Gulliver observes the Blefuscu empire and concocts a strategy. He requests iron bars and cables with which he constructs hooks. He then swims to Blefuscu, frightening the locals so much they abandon their ships. Gulliver hooks the vessels together. Despite being shot at, he persists in his task, safeguarding his eyes with spectacles. He attempts to haul the ships but they're firmly anchored so he uses his pocketknife to sever them, before towing them to Lilliput. Back in Lilliput, Gulliver is celebrated as a victor. The emperor wants him to fetch more ships, aiming to debilitate Blefuscu’s armed forces and annex it. Gulliver objects, not wishing to support slavery or unfairness. His stance sparks major discord within the government, leading some officials to vehemently oppose him. Three weeks on, a delegation from Blefuscu arrives, surrendering and ending the war. Hearing of Gulliver's kindness, they invite him to their kingdom. He is eager to accept and the emperor begrudgingly permits it. Gulliver, now a Nardac, is relieved of some of his contractual responsibilities. When a fire breaks out in the empress’s quarters, he steps in to help. Forgetting his coat, he devises a unique solution: he douses the fire by urinating on it. Worried about punishment for public urination, a crime in Lilliput, he is relieved when the emperor pardons him. However, the empress refuses to reside in the extinguished chambers.
Gulliver expounds on the lifestyle in Lilliput, revealing that everything, from the animals and plants to the Lilliputians themselves, are comparably scaled. Their eyesight is tuned to their size, enabling them to see clearer up close than Gulliver, but limiting their long-distance vision. The Lilliputians are well-educated with an eccentric writing style, which Gulliver humorously notes, moves from one corner of the paper to the other, "like the ladies in England." In terms of funerary customs, Lilliputians bury their dead headfirst as they hold a belief in resurrection and an inversion of the flat earth. However, Gulliver mentions that the more learned members of society disapprove of this ritual. He further explains Lilliput's laws and traditions, including a rule that condemns those who falsely implicate others in state crimes to death. This is because honesty is held high, and deceit is seen as more harmful than theft. The legal system encourages good behavior by rewarding it with titles and privileges. In terms of childcare, it is a collective responsibility of the kingdom, not individual parents. Children are sent to schools aptly chosen considering their parents' social status. They meet their parents only biannually, with the exception of laborers' children who stay home to assist with farming. Poverty is non-existent, as the kingdom efficiently caters to the needy.
Gulliver outlines the "intrigue" leading to his exit from Lilliput. As he gets ready for his journey to Blefuscu, a court member informs him of his treason charges, filed by his political adversaries. He is shown the sentencing paper which accuses him of public indecency, disregarding the emperor's command to take the remaining Blefuscu vessels, assisting rival envoys, and visiting Blefuscu. Gulliver learns that Reldresal has requested for a less severe punishment, advocating for blinding instead of execution. This penalty along with a slow starvation strategy is approved. The court member warns Gulliver that the blinding procedure is scheduled in three days. Frightened by this verdict, Gulliver flees across the channel and lands in Blefuscu.
Three days on, Gulliver spots an overturned boat suitable to his size in the ocean. He solicits the Blefuscu king's aid in mending it. Concurrently, Lilliput's emperor dispatches a messenger carrying orders demanding Gulliver's blindness. In response, Blefuscu's king returns the message, informing them of Gulliver's imminent departure from their realms. After approximately four weeks, Gulliver's boat is prepared and he embarks on his journey. He successfully reaches England and earns a substantial income by showcasing tiny livestock he transported from Blefuscu in his pockets.
Less than two months after returning to England, Gulliver embarks on another voyage aboard the Adventure. His journey takes him to the Cape of Good Hope and Madagascar before a monsoon throws them off course. They arrive at a desolate, rocky land. As Gulliver is returning to his ship, he realizes the ship has left without him. In a futile chase, he notices a giant pursuing the ship. He flees and ends up on a hill with a view of the countryside, where he is stunned to find giant grass. He stumbles upon a pathway, which turns out to be a footpath in a barley field. He is enclosed by cornstalks forty feet high. He attempts to climb stairs to the next field but they are too large. Suddenly, he spots another giant. As he hides, the giant alerts others and they start harvesting the crop. Gulliver feels incredibly insignificant in this giant world. A giant servant approaches Gulliver who lets out a scream, attracting the giant's attention. The giant picks up Gulliver and seems amused by his pleading gestures. Once Gulliver signals discomfort from the giant's grip, he is placed in the giant's pocket and taken to his master, the farmer. The farmer is intrigued by Gulliver and calls over his servants to have a look. Gulliver attempts to communicate, showing respect to the farmer and even offering gold from his purse. The farmer, confused about the gold coins, takes them anyways. The farmer introduces Gulliver to his wife who is initially scared of him. During dinner, Gulliver eats tiny portions from the table while the amused giants look on. The farmer's son frightens Gulliver, but the farmer intervenes and disciplines him. Gulliver signals for the boy's pardon and even kisses his hand. After the meal, Gulliver is allowed to rest in the farmer's wife's bed, where he wakes up to a battle with two gigantic rats, using his sword for defense.
Glumdalclitch, the farmer's young daughter, takes on Gulliver's care, making a doll's cradle his bed and protecting him from rats. She also sews his clothes and teaches him the language of the giants. When the farmer shares about Gulliver in town, curiosity is stirred. A friend visits, inspecting Gulliver through spectacles. Gulliver's laughter at this sight annoys the man who suggests showing Gulliver at the market for money. Gulliver is taken to town in a carriage, displayed on a table, and performs for crowds with Glumdalclitch by his side. The market trip tires Gulliver, but upon return, he's exhibited at the farmer's house where people pay to see him. Seeing a profit opportunity, the farmer, with Glumdalclitch, takes Gulliver to major cities. In the biggest city, Lorbrulgrud, they rent a room for the show. Gulliver, now proficient in their language, is presented multiple times a day to delighted audiences.
Gulliver's constant performing tires him out, causing him to lose weight drastically. The farmer sees this and decides to profit from Gulliver before his potential death. Concurrently, the court orders the farmer to present Gulliver to the queen for amusement. The queen is charmed by Gulliver and purchases him from the farmer for 1,000 gold pieces. Gulliver arranges for Glumdalclitch to stay with him in the royal residence. He shares his ordeal with the queen, impressing her with his intellect. Gulliver is then presented to the king who initially assumes him to be a mechanical toy. Scholars are called to study Gulliver and conclude that he can't survive on his own due to his inability to feed himself. Despite Gulliver's efforts to convince them about his homeland where everything is his size, they remain skeptical. Glumdalclitch gets a room in the palace where she receives lessons and Gulliver is given unique living quarters made from a box. He also gets new silk clothes which he finds uncomfortable. Gulliver's company becomes a part of the queen's routine, who finds his dinner habits entertaining. Gulliver, however, is disgusted by the queen's large food portions. The king and Gulliver engage in political talks. The king finds Gulliver's account of European politics laughable. Initially insulted, Gulliver eventually realizes that his world seems just as absurd. Gulliver's presence upsets the queen's dwarf who was accustomed to being the smallest and the center of amusement. The dwarf's antics include dropping Gulliver into a cream bowl and trapping him in a marrowbone. Despite these incidents, Gulliver always manages to escape and the dwarf is disciplined.
Gulliver provides an account of Brobdingnag's geographical features, pointing out inaccuracies in European maps since the country spans around 6,000 miles. The nation is hemmed in by mountains on one side and surrounded by a harsh sea on the other three, inhibiting international trade. The inland rivers teem with enormous fish, but the marine fish, similar in size to those in the rest of the world, are deemed insignificant. Gulliver is transported across the city in a unique travel container, attracting large crowds wherever he goes. Upon his request, he visits the country's grandest temple, but its stature, at 3,000 feet, doesn't impress him as it's relatively smaller than England's tallest steeple.
Gulliver's tiny size in Brobdingnag leads to many unfortunate events. In one instance, the dwarf, cross at Gulliver for mocking him, violently shakes an apple tree above Gulliver, causing an apple to hit him and knock him down. Once, he was left outdoors during a fierce hailstorm, getting so beaten up that he was housebound for ten days. Gulliver often visits the court ladies' apartments with his nursemaid, where he is merely seen as an amusing toy. The ladies find pleasure in undressing him and placing him in their cleavage, much to Gulliver's disgust due to their overpowering scent, a sensation he compares to how he smelled to the Lilliputians. The ladies also undress in front of him, revealing their rough, unsightly skin. The queen commissions a special boat for Gulliver. He uses it to row around a cistern for his pleasure and the court's entertainment. Another danger that Gulliver faces is a monkey, who carries him up a ladder like a baby and forcefully feeds him. Glumdalclitch saves Gulliver from the monkey, removing the food from his mouth with a needle which leads to him vomiting. The aftermath leaves Gulliver weak and battered, confining him to his bed for two weeks. The monkey is subsequently killed and a decree is issued to prevent having monkeys in the palace.
He pondered why individuals with publicly harmful views should be forced to change or hide them. Gulliver crafts a comb from the remnants of the king's shaven hair. He gathers additional hairs from the king to create the backs of two petite chairs, gifted to the queen as peculiar items. He attends a music concert, but the volume is too intense for his understanding. Gulliver opts for playing the spinet for the royal family, but the enormity of the instrument requires improvisation — he uses hefty sticks to run across the keyboard, hitting only sixteen keys. Gulliver attempts to counter the king’s low opinion of England by providing him with detailed information about the English government and culture. The king, intrigued, questions Gulliver and is especially fascinated by the brutal history of the country. The king then picks up Gulliver, expressing his disdain for the world Gulliver has described, and comes to the conclusion that most Englishmen seem like “odious Vermin.” He concludes that the majority of people in Gulliver's homeland are “the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the Surface of the Earth.”
Gulliver is upset by the king's judgement of England. He attempts to introduce him to gunpowder, considering it a significant invention, and presents it to the king as a sign of goodwill. The king's reaction shocks Gulliver as he is horrified by Gulliver's offer. Gulliver is left bewildered, believing the king missed a valuable chance. He finds the king overly cautious and narrow-minded for not embracing the innovations from his world. The general populace of Brobdingnag, in Gulliver's eyes, are unenlightened and lack education. Their legal system is constrained by their language, with laws not exceeding the number of letters in their alphabet, and no debates allowed over them. They are aware of printing but have a small collection of books, and their written language is basic and direct. One particular piece of writing discusses the frailty and insignificance of Brobdingnagians, suggesting a possibility they were much larger at some point.
Gulliver yearns to regain his liberty. The king instructs that a tiny ship be fetched, hoping that a suitable partner for Gulliver could be found. Gulliver is anxious that any progeny might be caged or given as pets to nobles. After two years in Brobdingnag, he desires to return to his own people. Gulliver and Glumdalclitch both fall sick during a trip to the southern coast. Desiring fresh air, he is carried to the seashore by a page in his travel box and left alone. An eagle snatches the box, flying away with Gulliver inside. Suddenly, Gulliver feels himself drop into the ocean. He panics, fearing he may drown or die of starvation, but soon feels his box being hauled. He's told his box is tethered to a ship, and a carpenter will open it. Gulliver suggests they just use a finger, which elicits laughter. He finally emerges from his box to people his own size aboard the ship. As Gulliver begins to improve, he shares his recent tales with the sailors, even showing them the items he kept from Brobdingnag. He struggles to adjust to their smaller size, often shouting. Upon reaching home, it takes a while to readjust to his previous life, prompting his wife to plead him to give up seafaring.
Gulliver, back in England for a mere ten days, is approached by a visitor requesting his presence on his ship's upcoming voyage to the East Indies. Gulliver agrees to join and prepares himself accordingly. During their journey, the ship is ambushed by pirates, including a Dutch-speaking one. Gulliver pleads with the Dutch pirate in his own language for mercy, citing their shared Christian faith. A pirate of Japanese origin assures them they won’t be killed, prompting Gulliver to express surprise at a heathen being more merciful than a Christian. His words enrage the Dutch pirate who punishes him by setting him adrift at sea in a tiny boat, equipped with just enough food for four days. Gulliver manages to land on an island. He sets up a makeshift camp, but soon realizes something peculiar: the sun is inexplicably being blocked out intermittently. He then observes a landmass, teeming with inhabitants, descending from the sky. He is perplexed by this airborne island, and yells out to the people above. They let the island down and haul Gulliver up with a lowered chain.
Gulliver finds himself in the midst of strange people with tilted heads, one eye turned inwards and the other looking heavenwards. Their attire showcases images of the cosmos and musical tools. Among these people are servants carrying "flappers", devices made of sticks and pouches, used to maintain the focus of their masters during discussions. Subsequently, Gulliver is taken to the king who sits behind a table full of mathematical tools. After an hour's wait, the king is snapped out of his thoughts with a flapper. Despite Gulliver's insistence that he isn't accustomed to the flapper, it is used on him too. It becomes evident that there is a language barrier between him and the king. Consequently, Gulliver is escorted to a room and given a meal. Soon, a tutor is assigned to teach Gulliver the local language. He picks up a few phrases and learns the island's name - Laputa, which translates to "floating island". A tailor is appointed to dress him. Meanwhile, the king orders the relocation of the island above the capital city, Lagado, where petitions from the subjects below are collected via ropes. Laputan linguistic heavily relies on mathematical and musical theories, which they hold high regard for. On the contrary, they loathe practical geometry, believing it to be crude. This aversion is so strong that they ensure their buildings lack right angles. While they excel in theoretical work, their practical skills are lacking. They are fervent followers of astrology and fear celestial changes.
The island, perfect in its circular shape and spanning 10,000 acres, houses a unique cave at its heart. This cave serves as the home to astronomers and their equipment, including a six-yard-long lodestone. This lodestone's magnetic force directs the movement of the island. It carries two charges that a control can reverse, with a large enough mineral responding to this magnet, steering the island to only move above the corresponding territory below. In cases of punishment, the king hovers the island over a specific area, cutting off its sunlight and rain. However, this tactic once fell flat with one defiant town which had hoarded enough food supplies. Their plot involved luring the island low enough to permanently trap it, with the intention to assassinate the king and his officials, seizing the government for themselves. The king, however, stopped the island's descent and surrendered to their demands. The king, along with his family, are strictly prohibited from leaving the floating island.
Gulliver finds himself feeling ignored on Laputa, as the local residents are solely engrossed in music and mathematics, fields in which they surpass him. Their discussions don't interest him, leading him to want to depart. He finds one court noble engaging due to his intelligence and curiosity, which ironically makes him seem foolish to his fellow Laputans who are musically inclined. Gulliver convinces this noble to help him gain the king's permission to leave, which is successful. He is transferred to the mountains above Lagado where he meets and stays with another noble, Munodi. In the company of Munodi, Gulliver explores a neighboring town, taken aback by the destitution of its poorly-clad residents and dilapidated housing. The land is not well farmed, and the townspeople seem unhappy. They move on to Munodi’s rural residence, passing through barren lands before reaching the verdant part of his estate. Munodi reveals that his fellow nobles criticize his “mismanagement” of his property. Munodi talks about how four decades ago, some locals visited Laputa, coming back with fresh insights on mathematics and arts. This led them to start an academy in Lagado, aiming to generate innovative theories on farming and building, and implement projects to enhance the city dwellers' lives. However, these theories have been fruitless and the novel methods have devastated the nation. Despite this dismal situation, he urges Gulliver to tour the academy, an invitation Gulliver is eager to accept due to his past interest in similar ventures.
Gulliver explores an academy, encountering numerous eccentric projects. One individual is striving to draw sunbeams from cucumbers; a scientist is laboring to convert waste into food. Another is exploring the creation of gunpowder from ice and composing an essay on fire's flexibility, aiming for publication. An architect plans to construct houses starting with the roof, and a sightless teacher instructs his blind students to discern paint colors using smell and touch. An agronomist is devising a technique for hogs to plow fields by unearthing buried food. A physician attempts to heal by aerating patients, and Gulliver exits as he tries to resuscitate a dog he'd killed via this unusual cure. Across the academy, others are pursuing theoretical knowledge. One instructor keeps his pupils busy with a machine generating arbitrary word groupings, asserting it can produce books on philosophy or politics. Elsewhere, a linguist is trying to strip language down to only nouns, arguing it would increase brevity and longevity as fewer words mean less bodily harm. He suggests nouns alone would simplify communication and we could simply carry objects instead of naming them. Another tutor employs an unusual approach to teaching mathematics, having his students consume wafers with mathematical proofs inscribed on them.
Gulliver proceeds to meet scholars researching governance topics. One suggests taxing women based on their attractiveness and fashion sense, while another believes governmental plots can be unveiled by examining the feces of citizens. Gulliver, however, starts to lose interest in the academy and feels a longing to go back to England.
Gulliver plans to head to Luggnagg but can't find a ship. Told to wait a month, he decides to venture to Glubbdubdrib, known as the magician's island. He meets the island's governor, attended by servants that appear and disappear mysteriously. The governor possesses the ability to summon any shade at will. Gulliver chooses Alexander the Great who confirms his death was by overdrinking, not poison. He also gazes upon Hannibal, the Carthaginian general, as well as Roman leaders Caesar, Pompey, and Brutus.
Gulliver reserves an entire day for discussions with the most respected historical figures, beginning with Homer and Aristotle. He encourages French philosophers René Descartes and Pierre Gassendi to explain their philosophical perspectives to Aristotle. The ancient philosopher openly admits his own errors and notes that nature's systems are subject to change across different eras.
Gulliver goes back to Luggnagg, despite longing to set foot on English soil again. Unfortunately, he is kept under restraint and is summoned to the royal court. He is provided with accommodation and a stipend. He discovers that it's a norm for court-goers to lick the ground as they advance towards the ruler. He also learns about the king's lethal way to eliminate adversaries at court by smearing poison on the floor.
Gulliver learns from the Luggnaggians about a group of immortals, the Struldbrugs, identifiable by a red birthmark on their foreheads. He imagines an immortal existence, filled with wealth and knowledge. However, he's informed that after thirty, these immortals become melancholic and by their eightieth year, they lack emotions and envy those who can die. Struldbrug marriages end when one turns eighty, as it's believed that "those who are condemned without any fault of their own to a perpetual continuance in the world should not have their misery doubled by the load of a wife.” Meeting them, Gulliver finds the Struldbrugs miserable and unpleasant, leading him to regret longing for immortality.
Gulliver manages to leave Luggnagg, having declined job offers, and reaches Japan without any issues. He secures a spot on a Dutch vessel by impersonating a Holland native. He then embarks on a journey from Amsterdam to England, discovering his family in a healthy state upon his return.
Gulliver, after a five-month home stay, embarks on a new voyage, captaining the Adventure. Upon the death of many of his crew due to sickness, he picks up new sailors on the journey. These new recruits cause a rebellion, turning the crew into pirates. Gulliver is abandoned on an unfamiliar coast following days of cabin confinement. He spots beastly creatures with long hair and goat-like beards, adept at tree climbing with their sharp claws. He finds these creatures revolting and sets off in search of humans but encounters one of these beasts. In self-defense, Gulliver strikes the beast with his sword's flat side, causing it to roar. Following this, a group of similar beasts retaliate by trying to defecate on him. Gulliver hides, but soon notices the creatures fleeing. He comes out of hiding and identifies a horse as the source of their fear. The horse scrutinizes Gulliver, neighing in a complex rhythm. Another horse soon joins, and they seem to engage in conversation. As Gulliver attempts to leave, a horse beckons him back. Impressed by the horses' apparent intelligence, Gulliver suspects they are sorcerers who have morphed into horses. He respectfully makes a request to be lead to a house or village. The horses communicate using the terms “Yahoo” and “Houyhnhnm,” which Gulliver tries to mimic.
Gulliver is brought to a residence where he assumes he'd meet individuals, but instead encounters more horses engaged in different tasks. He's puzzled that these horses serve as attendants in what seems like a prestigious household. A horse inspects Gulliver and utters “Yahoo.” Later, Gulliver is taken to a yard where certain hideous creatures he'd seen earlier are chained. He's compared with these creatures and he's taken aback by their human-like appearance. The horses feed Gulliver an assortment of food, including hay and meat, which he rejects, but the grotesque creature (Yahoo) eats voraciously. They eventually realize he enjoys milk and provide it abundantly. Another horse joins them for a meal, and they all enjoy teaching Gulliver their language. His preference for food remains unclear until he proposes making bread from their oats. He's provided with a sleeping area and some straw for the moment.
Gulliver puts in serious efforts to understand the language of the horses. They appreciate his intelligence and enthusiasm. After a quarter of a year, he manages to respond to their majority of queries and attempts to explain his origin from across the ocean. However, the horses, also known as Houyhnhnms, find this notion unbelievable. They regard Gulliver as a unique form of Yahoo, superior to others of the same kind. Gulliver requests them not to refer to him by that term, to which they agree.
Gulliver proceeds to tell the Houyhnhnms that in his land, the Yahoos, not horses, possess the authority. They question him about the roles horses play back at his home. He mentions that horses are used in transport, races, and chariot pulling, leaving the Houyhnhnms in wonder how a creature as feeble as a Yahoo could manage a powerful horse. Gulliver justifies by sharing that horses are made docile and submissive from an early age. He further elaborates on the human condition in Europe, leading them to ask him about his homeland in greater detail.
For a span of two years, Gulliver tells his Houyhnhnm master about the happenings in Europe, including the English Revolution and the French conflict. His master inquires about the origins of war, to which Gulliver tries to offer explanations. He is also requested to discuss law and the judicial system, a task he carries out thoroughly while expressing harsh criticism towards lawyers.
The dialogue shifts to other subjects like finance and the variety of European cuisine. Gulliver describes the plethora of jobs people hold, highlighting service trades such as healthcare and building.
Gulliver grows fond of the Houyhnhnms, losing interest in returning to humanity. His master, after reflecting on Gulliver's accounts of his homeland, decides that humans and Yahoos share more similarities than initially thought. The master lists the Yahoos' main faults, focusing on their greed and egocentricity. Although he acknowledges that humans have their own unique education, justice system, governance, and creativity, he maintains they inherently resemble the Yahoos.
Gulliver yearns to study the likenesses and differences between Yahoos and humans by interacting with them. He discovers that they are agile from a young age but incapable of learning. They exhibit strength, fearfulness, and spitefulness. The Houyhnhnms' primary virtues include camaraderie and kindness. Their focus is more on societal welfare than personal gain, even selecting partners for the betterment of their breed. They instill diligence, hygiene, and politeness in their offspring while training them for vigor and resilience.
Gulliver's master attends a big meeting of Houyhnhnms where they discuss the possibility of eradicating the Yahoos from the planet. The master advises that, like Europeans with their horses, they should simply neuter them instead of killing. This would eventually lead to the Yahoos' extinction due to their inability to reproduce and asses could be bred to replace them. Next, Gulliver elaborates on the various aspects of Houyhnhnms culture. They are great poets, have extensive knowledge of healing plants, construct basic dwellings, and usually live up to seventy-five years, dying naturally. They accept death as a part of life without any grief. Interestingly, they lack a writing system and don't even have a word to describe anything evil.
Gulliver quickly adapts to living with the Houyhnhnms, creating a comfortable room and new garments for himself. He starts viewing his loved ones as Yahoos, his heart now belonging to Houyhnhnms. Unexpectedly, his master informs him that his stay has upset others, forcing him to request Gulliver's departure. Stricken with sadness, Gulliver, with the assistance of a servant, builds a canoe to embark on his reluctant exit.
Gulliver, unwilling to go back to Europe, looks for an island to reside. He stumbles upon inhabited land but is hit by an arrow as he attempts to avoid the natives' missiles by rowing out to sea. He spots a sail afar but decides to stay with the savages rather than European Yahoos, hence conceals himself from the vessel. The sailors, including Don Pedro de Mendez, find him after anchoring near his hideout. They mock his horse-like dialect and are baffled by his wish to avoid their vessel. Don Pedro extends hospitality through food, drinks, and clothing, yet Gulliver sees him as a Yahoo, repelling him. Reluctantly, Gulliver travels back to England and reunites with his family that believed he was deceased. His feelings towards them are disgust and scorn. For an entire year, he avoids his wife and children, purchasing two horses and engaging with them for four hours daily.
Gulliver wraps up his tale by admitting that the rules necessitate him to relay his explorations to the authorities, yet he perceives no strategic benefit in launching assaults on any lands he unearthed. Above all, he has a strong desire to safeguard the Houyhnhnms.