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Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 3 Chapter 3

Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 3 Chapter 3

A phenomenon is solved by modern philosophy and astronomy. The Laputans’ great improvements in the latter and the king’s method of suppressing insurrections is described.

The flying or floating island was exactly circular, it had a diameter of about four miles and a half and an area of ten thousand acres. It was three hundred yards thick. The bottom, or under surface, was a hard, unbreakable stone plate, about two hundred yards thick. Above it lay several minerals and the top most layer was rich mould. The surface sloped from the sides to the centre and the rain was conveyed in small rivulets into four large basins that collected rain water. The monarch could raise the island above the region of clouds and vapours preventing the falling of dew and rain whenever he pleased.

At the centre of the island was a deep canyon called ‘Flandona Gagnole’, or the astronomer’s cave. This cave contained all their astronomical instruments and a magnet, six yards long, in the middle of it. This magnet attracted at one end, repelled at the other. The island was made to rise and fall and move from one place to another with the help of this magnet. The movement of Laputa had limits: it couldn’t go beyond the king’s own dominions, in other words, the islands that he controlled at sea level. It also couldn’t rise higher than four miles above the earth.

It was the job of the king’s astronomers to do the actual manipulation of the magnet at his orders. They also spent a lot of time discovering things about the solar system and the stars. The only thing that limited the king’s control of the earth below him was that all of his cabinet members had estates on the islands below Laputa, so they found the idea of dominating the islands under them to be pretty risky for their own families.

At the same time, the king still had two methods for keeping his authority over the lower islands without absolutely enslaving them. If any of them refused to pay tribute, he made his island float directly overhead, blocking their sunlight and rain, until they gave in and, if they continued to refuse to obey him, the king could drop his island directly on their heads.

The king rarely ordered this kind of total destruction because his ministers had their homes down below and his own people would revolt against him.

Such measures failed to work in the city of Lindalino, where the rebellious inhabitants had stored provisions of food in advance. They planned to force the island to come so low that it would be trapped forever and to kill the king and his officials in order to take over the government. The King, who was also secretly worried that the power of his magnet might not be strong enough to lift the island again if it came crashing to earth, ordered the island to stop descending and gave in to the town’s demands.

Laputa also had a law that neither the king nor his two eldest sons, nor the queen are allowed to leave the floating island.