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Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 1 Chapter 4

Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 1 Chapter 4

Milendo, the metropolis of Lilliput, is described, together with the emperor’s palace. A conversation between the narrator and a principal secretary, concerning the affairs of that empire is narrated here. The narrator offers to serve the emperor in his wars. After regaining his freedom, Gulliver went to Milendo, the capital city of the Lilliputians. The residents were told to stay indoors, and they all sat on their roofs and in their garret windows to see him. The metropolis was 500 square feet with a wall surrounding it. The wall was two and a half feet high, and at least eleven inches broad, so that a coach and horses may be driven very safely round it; and it was flanked with strong towers at ten feet distance. The city was an exact square, each side of the wall being five hundred feet long. The two great streets, which ran across and divided it into four quarters, were five feet wide. The lanes and alleys were from twelve to eighteen inches. The town could hold 500,000 people: the houses were three to five stories: the shops and markets were well provided.

The emperor wanted Gulliver to see the magnificence of his palace, which was at the centre of the city where the two great streets met. It was enclosed by a two feet high wall, and was twenty feet away from the buildings. The outward court was a square of forty feet, and included two other courts: in the inmost were the royal apartments, which Gulliver could not see for the great gates, from one square into another, were only eighteen inches high, and seven inches wide. As the buildings of the outer court were at least five feet high, it was impossible for Gulliver to stride over them without causing damage. So, Gulliver cut down trees to make himself a stool, which he carried around with him so that he could sit down and see things from a shorter distance than a standing position allowed.

About two weeks after Gulliver obtained his liberty, Reldresal came to see him. He told Gulliver that two forces, one rebel group and one foreign empire, threatened the kingdom. The rebel group existed because, for about seventy moons, the kingdom had been divided into two factions called Tramecksan and Slamecksan. The people in the two factions were distinguished by the height of their heels. The animosity between the two parties was so intense, that they would neither eat, nor drink, nor talk with each other. Reldresal told Gulliver that though high heels were most agreeable to their ancient constitution, the current emperor had chosen to employ primarily the low-heeled Slamecksan in his administration. He added that the emperor himself had lower heels than all of his officials but that his heir had one heel higher than the other, which gave him a hobble in his gait.

At the same time, the Lilliputians feared an invasion from the Island of Blefuscu, which Reldresal called the ‘Other Great Empire of the Universe.’ He added that the philosophers of Lilliput did not believe Gulliver’s claim that there were other countries in the world inhabited by other people of his size, preferring to think that Gulliver had dropped from the moon or a star.

Reldresal described the history of the two nations. The conflict between them, he told Gulliver, began years ago, when the emperor’s grandfather happened to cut one of his fingers while trying to break an egg in the old way, large end first. His father, who was then, the emperor, commanded all Lilliputians to break their eggs the small end first. The people resented the law, and six rebellions were started in protest. The monarchs of Blefuscu fueled these rebellions and when they were over, the rebels fled to that country to seek refuge. Eleven thousand people chose death rather than submit to the law. Many books were written on the controversy, but books written by the ‘Big-Endians’ were banned in Lilliput. The government of Blefuscu accused the Lilliputians of disobeying their religious doctrine, the Brundrecral, by breaking their eggs at the small end. The Lilliputians argued that the doctrine read, “That all true believers shall break their eggs at the convenient end,” which could be interpreted as the small end.

Reldresal continued that the exiles gained support in Blefuscu to launch a war against Lilliput and were aided by rebel forces inside Lilliput. A war had been raging between the two nations ever since. Reldresal requested Gulliver’s aid in the perpetual battle. Gulliver complied with these words: ‘I desired the Secretary to present my humble duty to the Emperor, and to let him know, that I thought it would not become me, who was a foreigner, to interfere with parties; but I was ready, with the hazard of my life, to defend his person and state against all invaders.’