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Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 1 Chapter 3

Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 1 Chapter 3

The narrator diverts the emperor, and his nobility of both sexes, in a very uncommon manner. The diversions of the court of Lilliput are described. The narrator has his liberty granted him upon certain conditions.

Gulliver’s gentleness and good behaviour impressed the emperor and his court, and also the army and the people in general. As he earned their trust he began to hope that he would be set free, as he was getting along well with the Lilliputians.

He made good progress in understanding and speaking their language. The emperor decided to entertain him with shows, including a performance by rope-dancers, who were Lilliputians seeking employment in the government. For the performance, which doubled as a sort of competitive entrance examination, the candidates danced on ‘ropes’—slender threads suspended two feet above the ground. Whenever a vacancy occurred, either by death or disgrace, candidates petitioned the emperor to entertain him with a dance and whoever jumped the highest earned the office. How long and how skillfully a candidate could dance upon a rope determined his tenure in office. The current ministers continued this practice as well, in order to show that they had not lost their skill.

Of the ministers, two were particularly adept: Flimnap, the treasurer and Gulliver’s friend, Reldresal, principal secretary for private affairs. Gulliver was amazed to learn that these diversions were often attended with fatal accidents. He, himself, saw two or three candidates break a limb. This danger was especially true of the ministers, for, in trying to excel themselves and their fellows, they strained so far that they at times received a fall. In fact, a year or two ago, Flimnap was only saved from breaking his neck because one of the king’s cushions, that accidentally lay on the ground, weakened the force of his fall.

As another diversion, the emperor laid three silken threads of different colours on a table. He then held out a stick, and candidates were asked to leap over it or creep under it, a feat for which they were then rewarded with one of the ribbons.

The horses of the army, and those of the royal stables, were daily led before Gulliver, and they gradually lost their fear of him. The riders would make the horses leap over his hand, as he held it on the ground; and one of the emperor’s huntsmen, riding a large horse, jumped over Gulliver’s foot, shoe and all; which was indeed an extraordinary leap. Gulliver built a platform from sticks and his handkerchief and invited horsemen to exercise upon it. The emperor greatly enjoyed watching this new entertainment. The emperor was so delighted, that he ordered this entertainment to be repeated several days, and once he desired to be lifted up and give the word of command.

The empress also wanted to climb up and it was with great difficulty that Gulliver persuaded her to let him hold her in her close chair within two yards of the stage, from whence she was able to take a full view of the whole performance. This entertainment had to be abandoned when a horse stepped through the handkerchief. Though Gulliver could save both horse and rider, he decided that it was too dangerous for them to keep riding on the cloth.

About two or three days before Gulliver was set free, some Lilliputians discovered Gulliver’s hat, which had been washed ashore. He asked them to bring it back. Soon after, the emperor asked Gulliver to pose like a colossus, or a giant statue, so that his troops might march under Gulliver. Three thousand foot soldiers and a thousand horse-riders did so, the foot soldiers marching twenty-four abreast and the horse-riders sixteen, with drums beating, colours flying, and pikes advanced.

Gulliver’s petitions for freedom were finally answered. Gulliver had to swear to obey the orders of the Lilliputians, which included that he must assist them in times of war, survey the land around them, help with construction, and deliver urgent messages. Gulliver agreed and his chains were removed.