Gulliver’s Travels is one of the most influential books in English literature, written several centuries ago but still remains popular today. Swift’s Gulliver is a character known for his modesty and sensibility despite being placed in an unusual setting. Throughout the book, Gulliver highlights his practical nature and does it in various forms, including by restraining himself and learning to live in new circumstances.
One of the main ways how Gulliver indicates that he is a practical man is by avoiding using his force to destroy Lilliputians, despite being capable of it. For instance, when Gulliver arrives at Lilliput, the locals tie him to prevent him from moving and shoot arrows at him when he tries to free himself. Yet, eventually, Gulliver makes a promise of honor to them and guarantees that he will remain still. Lines 113–118 show how Gulliver, despite having an occasional urge to crush dozens of little people in his hand, reminds himself of the need to adhere to the promise he made (Swift, n.d.). Such a scene demonstrates that Gulliver can compromise and is able to take into consideration the interests of others. In other words, Gulliver shows that he is practical because he can keep his word and does not violate the terms to which he agreed.
Another notable example of Gulliver demonstrating his ability to accept his condition is his willingness of Gulliver to learn the language and protect the nation of Lilliput. When staying at Lilliput, Gulliver at first could not talk to the locals because he did not understand their language. Yet, quite quickly, Gulliver mastered the basics of Lilliputians’ language and was able to hold conversations with them. Gulliver states in lines 158–159, “I had now made a good progress in understanding and speaking their language” (Swift, n.d.). Additionally, Gulliver entered into a contract with Lilliput’s Emperor to earn freedom. Most notably, Gulliver agrees to protect the Empire of Lilliput, destroy the fleet of the nation’s enemies, and perform other important obligations (Swift, n.d., lines 256–257). Such a scene demonstrates the capacity of Gulliver to be practical and to find common ground with others.
Finally, there are also many scenes which indicate Gulliver’s readiness to accept his condition. For instance, in the book’s second part, Gulliver travels to the land of Brobdingnag, where he was a little person since the country was home to giants. Nevertheless, despite not having the size advantage over Brobdingnagians, Gulliver did not try to escape and chose to stay and adjust to the new circumstances. For example, he found a way to fight flies, which prevented him from enjoying his meal by using a knife. Gulliver’s dexterity amused the queen of Brobdingnag, and she admired him for this (Swift, n.d., line 557). Gulliver also held conversations with the king of Brobdingnag and told him about the government in England and the history of his native country (Swift, n.d., line 581). Essentially, Gulliver once again demonstrated his ability to stay practical and sensible in different circumstances and not to despond, no matter how difficult the situation is.
Gulliver is a character who, throughout the book, stay practical in his approach to life and the conditions which surround him. After his arrival to Lilliput, he did not try to destroy the locals, despite being much larger than them, and instead acted reasonably by agreeing to certain terms stipulating his freedom. Similarly, in Brobdingnag, Gulliver took the new circumstances as a given and made efforts to integrate himself into the new culture.
Swift, J. (n.d.). Gulliver’s travels. Web.