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THE CHARACTERS - DESCRIPTION AND ANALYSIS (continued)
THE LILLIPUTIANS IN GENERA
The Lilliputians are tiny creatures, possessed of ingenuity, craft, and cunning. They have a love of flourish, pomp, ceremony, and bureaucracy. They appreciate military parades, theatrical oratory, and political maneuverings of any kind, including gossip. They are very refined in their manners, but this doesn't prevent them from being petty, vindictive, and vengeful.
THE BROBDINGNAGIAN FARMER
He is a poor man who seizes on Gulliver as a way to earn money. Like many who have suffered and who suddenly see an end to their poverty, he's unable to care about the suffering he's imposing on Gulliver.
THE BROBDINGNAGIAN KING
This man represents Swift's idea of a just, wise, and strong ruler. For him, force is a measure of absolute last resort, and the notion of gunpowder (of which he'd never heard until Gulliver described it to him) horrifies him. The king has other admirable traits-he's curious, eager to learn, not afraid of the unknown. He spends long hours with Gulliver asking him questions about English and European domestic and public ways, politics, religion, and history.
Glumdalclitch is the daughter of the Brobdingnagian farmer. She is Gulliver's nursemaid and loves him and cares for him as her dearest doll.
THE BROBDINGNAGIAN QUEEN
She, too, regards Gulliver as a pet. Yet it was she who rescued Gulliver from the farmer and convinced her husband that they adopt him. She is kind, though she sometimes embarrasses Gulliver by treating him like a baby, or a prized puppy.
THE BROBDINGNAGIANS IN GENERAL
The Brobdingnagians in general are as ugly to Gulliver as the Lilliputians were physically attractive. Though their appetites appear bestially large to Gulliver, their features grotesque, and their skin revolting, the Brobdingnagian character is much more refined compared to the Lilliputian.
These creatures have one eye turned inward and one turned up to the sky to indicate that they are so absorbed in their abstract speculations that they can't see what's going on around them. They represent science cut off from the demands of real life, and reason so abstract it is folly.
These are Swift's allegorical treatment of certain members of England's Royal Society, scientists and scholars engaged in experimentation intended to yield practical applications. Their projects, modeled on actual Royal Society experiments done in Swift's time, are nonsensical and wasteful. The Projectors have no regard for tradition; they are concerned only with what's new.
Count Munodi lives in Lagado, land of the Projectors. Unlike them, however, he has great respect for wise traditions of the past. Accordingly, his house is built on fine architectural principles and solid traditional construction. His land is fertile, as he cultivates it the way lands have been worked for centuries. He is despised for being out of step with the times. Many readers think Count Munodi represents Lords Oxford and/or Bolingbroke, also considered out of step by the Whigs, who wholeheartedly embraced the Enlightenment.
These creatures, whom Gulliver encounters in Part III, live forever. They are, however, far from the stereotypical fantasy figures who have eternal youth and vitality. The Struldbrugs keep getting older and are probably the most miserable beings alive.
These horses are governed entirely by reason. They have created a society in which there is no crime, no poverty, no disagreement, no unhappiness. Neither is there any joy, passion, ecstatic love. Everything is always on an even keel. Husbands and wives (marriages are arranged according to gene pools) have no more feeling for each other than for anyone else. More than anything, Gulliver wants to be a Houyhnhnm. To him, these creatures represent the human ideal. To Swift, the Houyhnhnms represent what life would be like without the passionate "spice" that makes it worth living. Still, their society is admirable in certain regards. Do you think you could live among the Houyhnhnms? Would you want to be one?
The Yahoos are so startling and unforgettable that the term has stayed in our language. When someone today refers to a person as a Yahoo, he means that that person is a hick, somewhat less than civilized. To Swift, it meant something far more damning.
The Yahoos in Gulliver's Travels embody the lowest traits in human nature. They are gluttonous, filthy, lascivious, thieving, violent brutes. Only physically do they resemble civilized people. They live in kennels and function as the Houyhnhnms' "horses."
To Gulliver they represent mankind, period. To Swift, they represent what man must strive to overcome. Bear in mind that the Yahoos ended up on the Houyhnhnms' island by accident. A female and a male arrived, and, stranded, never left. The original couple had children, so did their children, etc. Totally cut off from other humans, they degenerated to the level of beasts. It's possible that Swift is saying here that people need to be with other people to remain civilized. Swift, who has been attacked for misanthropy, is actually arguing against it here.
CAPTAIN PEDRO DE MENDEZ
Pedro de Mendez is the captain of the ship that rescues Gulliver when the Houyhnhnms send him away. Mendez is the first person Gulliver has seen in two years. He is extremely gentle, generous, and patient with Gulliver. Not only does he take Gulliver back to Europe, he makes sure he gets special food, clothing, and quarters. He is immediately sensitive to the fact that Gulliver is traumatized, and he suffers Gulliver's insults without batting an eyelash. He convinces Gulliver to go home to his family, and pays his way from Amsterdam to England.
Swift's creation of the character Pedro de Mendez is a good indication that he never intended the Yahoos to represent his estimation of mankind.