Gulliver's Travels: Character Analysis

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Character Sketches

Part I & II Character List


      Gulliver, the protagonist and narrator of this novel, is a man of tremendous courage and adventure loving spirit. Since childhood, he has always dreamt of going on sea voyages. Being from a very humble background he worked as a bound apprentice to Mr. James Bates, a renowned surgeon of England, and sent the earned money to his father, and in return, he got a very meager allowance from his father that he used for his studies and to learn the subjects that were useful for navigation. His most cherished dream of sailing in the vast sea materializes when he makes one or two voyages on the Swallow, a ship under the command of Captain Abraham Pannell, as a surgeon. His hunger of voyages increases and he makes more voyages. During one such voyage, Gulliver's ship encounters a violent tempest and he is driven to Lilliput, a strange land of very tiny human beings. Gulliver gets a royal treatment from these little creatures and in return, he too saves these people from various troubles time to time. Gulliver is obedient to his emperor but is not deaf to the voice of his conscience. Though he seizes the warships of Blefuscu to please the Lilliputian emperor yet he does not fulfill another wish of the Lilliputian emperor that could reduce the free kingdom of Blefuscu into a colony of slaves. Although powerful and courageous, he is an innocent and straightforward man and is free from all sorts of evil thoughts and malice. The crooked politicians of Lilliput frame false charges against Gulliver out of sheer jealousy. Despite being capable of destroying the whole kingdom, Gulliver does not retaliate remembering his good days spent in Lilliput and decides to leave the kingdom without harming it. In the second part of the novel we are made acquainted with the patriotic emotions of Gulliver when he tries to glorify the image of his dear country with all his might. He is an ego-conscious person too and tries to defend his ego whenever it is hurt due to his littleness in the kingdom of the giants. He possesses all the qualities of a grateful person. He always keeps designing new tricks to please the emperor and the queen of Brobdingnag. He is an artistic and skillful fellow. He pleases the royal beings with his art of music and presents them handmade furniture! and a purse made with the combings of the queen's hair. A dutiful father and husband, he secures his family financially before venturing into any voyage in future. To sum up, one can remember Gulliver as a determined, courageous, adventure loving, patriotic, kind, responsible, straightforward, and a grateful person.

The Emperor of Lilliput—

      The Lilliputian emperor was the tallest among his countrymen, his height being six inches. Gulliver has first described his kindness and generosity and unbiased, opinion when he ordered to take care of Gulliver's basic requirements after learning about Gulliver's kindness towards malicious souls while many of his high ranking ministers wanted him to be killed due to his large bulk. Later, we find him not that unbiased and strong headed an emperor who relies upon his own genuine opinion. The emperor seems to be a puppet in the hands of his favorites who out of jealousy poison his ears against Gulliver. Under the evil influence of these flattering ministers, the emperor takes the heinous decision of punishing Gulliver in a cruel and disgraceful manner. Besides, we are also made acquainted with his tyrannical ways of handling those who do not agree with his thoughts and beliefs. Gulliver, who had saved Lilliput from getting into a disastrous war, by bringing the warships of Blefuscu to Lilliput, is praised highly by the emperor but the same friendly and grateful emperor turns into Gulliver's most dreadful enemy when Gulliver turns down his proposal of helping him to subjugate Blefuscu. The emperor was also very savage towards those who did not give in to his grandfather’s wish of breaking an egg from the smaller end. His cruelty towards the people of other faiths manifests his narrowness of mind and soul. In fact, the author has tried to reflect the character of King George I of England who was a monarch of tyrannical nature, always surrounded by flattering and cunning courtiers.

The Empress of Lilliput—

      The empress of Lilliput is a unique example of those royal class ladies who are ruled by their vanity and nothing else. She is a thick headed ungrateful woman who instead of being grateful to Gulliver for saving her life, becomes his avowed enemy when Gulliver extinguishes the fire of her burning palace with his urine. She does not have the little intelligence to understand the need of the hour and to read the good intentions of Gulliver. According to various critics, her character is based on the character of Queen Anne of England who had blocked Swift's advancement to the Church of England and who was also upset with his writings.

Skyresh Bolgolam—

      Skyresh Bolgolam was Gulliver's natural enemy from the very first day. He was the high admiral and counselor to the emperor of Lilliput and had a strong influence on the emperor's decisions to a great extent. It was he, who designed the somewhat dishonorable conditions of freedom for Gulliver. The highest title of honor that was provided to Gulliver by the emperor further aggravated his jealousy towards Gulliver and. with the support of the most influential evil-minded ministers he prepared the articles of impeachment against Gulliver.


      Flimnap, the treasurer of the Lilliputian Empire, is another secret enemy of Gulliver who does not leave a single opportunity to poison the ears of the emperor against Gulliver. It was he, who convinced the emperor that the kingdom is on the verge of bankruptcy due to the large expenses incurred to feed Gulliver. He also accused Gulliver of having an affair with his wife that Gulliver successfully protested. He had a strong influence on the emperor and used it to design the most scandalous articles of impeachment against Gulliver in company with Skyresh Bolgolam and other malicious ministers.

The Farmer in Brobdingnag—

      The farmer who brought Gulliver to his house from the fields was kind and protective towards Gulliver till he met his friend who advised him to earn money by exhibiting Gulliver. The money that he earned by showing Gulliver in the market increased his hunger for money and turned, him into a greedy monster who forgot to treat Gulliver as a human being made of blood and flesh who needed rest and proper food. He made Gulliver present his feats from morning till night with few breaks. All this toil reduced Gulliver to a skeleton. Even this pathetic condition of Gulliver could not melt the farmer's heart. Considering Gulliver's deteriorating condition he wanted to make best use of Gulliver before his death, as he apprehended that Gulliver would not live more than a month.


      The daughter of the farmer is a contrast to her greedy and insensitive father. She is a nurse as well as an affectionate friend to Gulliver. She takes care of Gulliver as a caring nurse. She stitches a number of clothes for him and helps him wear them. She weeps loudly, holding Gulliver tightly to her bosom when she comes to know about her father’s plan of exhibiting Gulliver to earn money. She is so protective of Gulliver that she does not let anyone come near him during the shows. Her attachment to Gulliver is so deep that she cannot bear a minute’s separation from him. Honouring this affection, she is appointed as the prime nurse of Gulliver at the royal court; there too, she takes care of Gulliver in a very sincere and loving manner. She shares a spiritual bond with Gulliver that enables her to know that she is seeing Gulliver for the last time when he asks for her consent to go to the sea shore with a page. She gives her consent and weeps bitterly as she has an intuition that she will never see him again.

    The Queen of Brobdingnag—  The queen of Brobdingnag is very fond of Gulliver. She buys him from the farmer at the cost of one thousand gold coins. She treats Gulliver with sincere care and orders her staff to do the same. She is so concerned about the safety of Gulliver that she punishes the dwarf for his mischievous behavior towards Gulliver and finally sends him to another household as a final punishment. The queen does not treat Gulliver as a sheer pet or a doll but is quite sensitive towards his wishes and likings. She appoints Glumdalclitch as Gulliver's prime nurse on his request. She also takes care of the entertainment of Gulliver. When she learns about his skills in navigation, she arranges for a little boat and a trough for him so that he can entertain himself by sailing his boat. This queen is a sharp contrast to the stupid and ungrateful queen of Lilliput.

The King—

      The king of Brobdingnag is a true intellectual personality. His relationship with Gulliver is based upon the queries and observations that he puts forward in his various meetings with Gulliver. This king unlike the emperor of Lilliput is a strong headed, simple but brilliant person. His scholastic qualities guide him to reject the opinion of his own scholars regarding Gulliver and he forms his own opinion about this diminutive visitor after listening to him carefully and talking to the farmer and his daughter. He is also a keen learner and a great observer. Even after all efforts, Gulliver could not change his low opinion regarding the politics and the government of England. The king is bestowed not only with intelligence but also with a kind and fatherly heart that makes him reproach Gulliver for his horrible advice of making gunpowder for the king to enable him to control and expand his kingdom. The king is ready to sacrifice his kingdom to keep peace and unity. To sum up, it can be said that the king of Brobdingnag is an ideal king that every kingdom wishes for.

Part III & IV Character List

Lemuel Gulliver—

      The character of Gulliver has been derived from an average English family. Thus his prime motive is to provide his family a secure and comfortable life. By profession, he is a surgeon but has an insatiable appetite for sea voyages. This obsession drives him to far-off lands occupied by strange inhabitants. His inherent humility, civility and knowledge never fail to fetch him tremendous favors from the kings and queens of these places. His quick grasp of new languages helps him to communicate with the natives in an advantageous and impressive manner. His colorful adventures starkly reveal to him the vileness, brutality and hypocrisy of contemporary European governments and society.

Laputian King—

      The Laputian king was known for his hospitality towards strangers. He makes all arrangements for Gulliver to help him to learn their language and confers on him the honor of dining with him. Though he is keen to know about Gulliver’s country, his queries are related only to the state of mathematics and music in his country since these are the only two subjects which are given importance in Laputa. The king is so generous and concerned about the author that he presents him many expensive gifts and money along with a letter of recommendation to Lord Munodi when Gulliver goes to visit Lagado.

Lord Munodi—

      Lord Munodi, who was once the governor of Lagado, the metropolis of Laputa, is one of those few sensible men of Balnibarbi who know the value of a natural and simple life and are contented with the older ways of living. The neatly built houses and the fields full of vineyards and corn in his estate are a dead contrast to the ill-built houses and grassless grounds elsewhere in the kingdom. Ironically, this Lord is despised by the elites for his preference for the older ways of living.

The King of Luggnagg—

      The king of Luggnagg represents those orthodox monarchs who strictly and indiscriminately follow all the fair and unfair traditions of their ancestors. The custom of crawling in the court by the person who wants to see the king is one such tradition that is strictly applied to one and all. Yet, the king is competent and also a patron of learning. He is much delighted by the author’s company and arranges lodgings for him in his court and also provides him a purse full of gold, for his expenses. Later, when the author wishes to depart, he presents him gold and diamonds along with a letter of recommendation for the emperor of Japan.


      The people of Laputa are perpetually confused, anxious and preoccupied. They have entangled their minds in the complexities of trivial subjects. They are so absentminded that they always need a flapper to hit them softly to help them be aware of their surroundings. Their high knowledge of mathematics and overambitious scientific experiments have made no positive changes in their lives, but have rather deprived them of all the natural joys of life.


      Gulliver is very impressed by the race of these mortals. He has generously depicted their well-organized, simple and natural life that is free from all vices that are natural to human beings, such as avarice and envy. In fact, they have no word for evil or untruth in their language.

Don Pedro de Mendez—

      The captain of a Portuguese ship, he is kind, generous, farsighted and understanding. He rescued Gulliver from the island where he had taken refuge and brought him back to Europe. His kindness and understanding towards Gulliver enabled the latter to once again walk confidently among human beings whom he wanted to avoid as the most loathsome creatures. The captain who was concerned about Gulliver’s wellbeing kept him at his own residence for about ten days and prepared him with patience to tolerate the company of human beings. Finally, he succeeded in persuading Gulliver to return to his homeland and spend his life with his family. Had Gulliver not been found by this kind captain, it is not known what hazardous fate would have awaited him.

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