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Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 1 Chapter 2
Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 1 Chapter 2
The emperor of Lilliput, attended by several of the nobility, comes to see the narrator in his confinement. The emperor’s person and habit is described. Learned men are appointed to teach the narrator their language. He gains favour by his mild disposition. His pockets are searched, and his sword and pistols are taken from him.
Once Gulliver was chained to the building, he was finally allowed to stand up and view the entire countryside, which he discovered was beautiful and rustic. The countryside appeared like a garden, and the enclosed fields, which were generally forty feet square, resembled so many beds of flowers. These fields were intermingled with woods of half a stang, (a stang is a pole; sixteen feet and a half). The tallest trees were seven feet tall, and the whole area looked to him like a theatre set. Gulliver’s process of relieving himself is described painstakingly. He writes that he describes this process in order to establish his cleanliness, which has been called into question by his critics. Initially, he walked inside the building as far as his chain permitted, to relieve himself. After the first time, he ensured he relieved himself in open air, and two servants carried away his excrement in wheel-barrows.
The emperor came on horseback from his tower to visit Gulliver. He ordered his servants to give Gulliver food and drink. Though the emperor was dressed plainly, and carried a sword to defend himself, he was awe-inspiring being taller by almost the breadth of a nail than any of his court. His features were strong and masculine, with an Austrian lip and arched nose, his complexion olive, his countenance erect, his body and limbs well proportioned, all his motions graceful, and his bearing majestic. He was twenty-eight years and three quarters old, and he had ruled for about seven years. He and Gulliver conversed, though they could not understand each other. Gulliver tried to speak every language he knew, but nothing worked. There were several priests and lawyers present, who were commanded to try and talk to Gulliver; and he spoke to them in as many languages as he knew but all to no purpose.
After two hours, Gulliver was left with a strong guard to protect him from the crowds who thronged about him, coming as close as they dared; and some of them, disobeying orders, even shot arrows at Gulliver, as he sat on the ground by the door of his house. In fact, one of them very narrowly missed his left eye. As a punishment, the colonel ordered that six of the ringleaders be seized and tied up and placed them in Gulliver’s hand. Gulliver put five of them into his pocket and pretended that he was going to eat the sixth, but then cut loose his ropes and set him free. He did the same with the other five, which pleased the court.
After two weeks, a bed was made for Gulliver. It consisted of six hundred small beds sewn together. As the news of his arrival spread throughout the kingdom, curious people from the villages came to see him. As a result, the king directed that those who had already seen Gulliver should return home. No one was allowed to come within fifty yards of his house, without license from the court; as a result the government earned a sizeable amount of money in fees. Meanwhile, the government tried to decide what to do with him. Frequent councils brought up various concerns: that he would break loose, for instance, or that he would eat enough to cause a famine. Some suggested that they starve him or shoot him in the face to kill him, but others argued that doing so would leave them with a giant corpse and a large health risk.
Officers who witnessed Gulliver’s lenient treatment of the six offending soldiers reported to the council and the emperor and his court decided to respond with kindness. They arranged for the delivery of large amounts of food to Gulliver every morning which were to be paid for from His Majesty’s treasury. Six hundred domestics were assigned to wait on him, and tailors were hired to make him clothing, and teachers appointed to instruct him in their language.
Every morning Gulliver asked the emperor to set him free, but the emperor refused, saying that Gulliver must be patient.
The emperor insisted that Gulliver swear a peace with him and his kingdom. He promised that Gulliver would be treated with all kindness. The emperor also ordered him to be searched to ensure that he did not have any weapons. Gulliver agreed to this search, and the Lilliputians took an inventory of his possessions. In the process, all of his weapons were taken away. Ironically, the two items that escaped the view of the Lilliputians were his spectacles and his telescope. These have symbolic significance; they enable Gulliver to see more clearly up close and far away.