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Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 3 Chapter 2

Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 3 Chapter 2

The humourous dispositions of the Laputans is described. An account of their learning of the king and his court is given. The narrator’s reception there is described. The inhabitants are subject to fear and disquietudes. An account of the women is also given.

Gulliver was immediately surrounded by people and noticed that they were all quite odd. Their heads were all tilted to one side or the other, with one eye turned inward and the other looking up. Their clothes were adorned with images of celestial bodies and musical instruments. Gulliver immediately realized that the inhabitants of Laputa were a race of distracted people, who had a very limited attention span and very narrow interests; that was the reason why the servants carried a ‘flapper’ made of a stick with a pouch tied to the end. Their job was to aid conversation by striking the ear of the listener and the mouth of the speaker at the appropriate times to prevent their masters’ minds from wandering off.

Gulliver was conveyed to the king, who sat behind a table loaded with mathematical instruments. They waited an hour before there was some opportunity to arouse the king from his thoughts, at which point he was struck with the flapper. The king said something and Gulliver’s ear was struck with the flapper as well, even though he tried to explain that he did not require such actions. It became clear that he and the king could not speak any of the same languages, so Gulliver was taken to an apartment and served dinner.

A teacher was sent to instruct Gulliver in the language of the island and he was able to learn several sentences. He discovered that the name of the island is Laputa, which in their language meant ‘floating island.’ A tailor was also sent to provide him with new clothes and while he was waiting for these clothes, the king ordered the island to be moved. It was taken to a point above the capital city of the kingdom, Lagado, passing villages along the way. As they went they collected petitions from the king’s subjects by means of ropes sent down to the lands below.

The language of the Laputans relied heavily on mathematical and musical concepts, as they valued these theoretical disciplines above everything. The Laputans despised practical geometry, thinking it vulgar—so much so that they made sure that there were no right angles in their buildings. They were very good with charts and figures but very clumsy in practical matters. They practiced astrology and dreaded changes in the celestial bodies. They spent their time listening to the music of the spheres. They believed in astrology and worried constantly that the sun would go out. The Laputian houses, he noticed, were badly built, without accurate right angles.

Gulliver discovered that Laputa controlled the continent under it, Balnibarbi and that there were frequent visitors and deliveries from sea level up to Laputa by means of rope. In fact, the king lived in Laputa, but Balnibarbi was the capital city.

What surprised Gulliver was that, even though all the Laputans knew only mathematics and music, they still liked to talk endlessly about politics. He also found it strange that the Laputans lived in such constant fear of the end of the world that they hardly slept at night or enjoyed life. The women of Laputa despised their husbands and loved strangers.

Gulliver became pretty fluent in Laputian after a month. He and the king talked but the king didn’t bother asking him about the countries he had seen; all of his questions revolved around mathematics and science known to Gulliver’s people.