(a choose your own adventure game!)
Your name is Lemuel Gulliver, the third of five sons. You are a surgeon that works aboard ships. You are from Nottinghamshire, England. You love to travel... maybe a bit too much... and you're just a bit naïve. You grew up poor, but thankfully you were able to score an apprenticeship under the late Mr. Bates, who gave you the information and inspiration you needed to begin your journeys. Speaking of journeys, let's begin.
"He works as a surgeon on ships and ends up becoming a ship captain… through many unfortunate events during his voyage at sea, Gulliver becomes stranded in foreign lands and absurd situations."
What would you like to do first?
Ah, but the sea calls to you, Gulliver...
You decided to go on your first journey. Good for you Gul- OH NO! THE SEA HAS KNOCKED YOUR SHIP OVER!
You swim to the nearest shore, exhausted, and fall asleep in the grass.
You wake up to the immedite realization that you've been tied up. And you're suddenly being held captive. Considering you just showed up to this random island with no prior warning, the inhabitants must be horrified...
Due to the ropes, you are only able to look up at the sky. You have no idea who could have done this to you. There's no one around, you think to yourself. Suddenly, you hear a small, confused noise.
You felt something alive moving on your left leg which finds its way to your chin. You look down at it as best as you can and find a small human creature, not six inches high, with a bow and arrow in his hands, and a quiver at his back.
What the heck is this? You, astonished, yell in surprise. They run back in shock, then begin to yell "Hekinah degul!" Whatever that means. You break free of the ropes (which, due to your size, are more like strings) that hold your head and left arm down, then you felt about a hundred small arrows hit your hand. They feel more like needles to you.
These small creatures are no match for you, right Gulliver?
Now Gulliver, don't be so spineless.
Now Gulliver, don't be so arrogant. However, you decide the best strategy for escape is to lay still until nightfall. Guess now you can rest...
Oh- what's that noise?
. . .
It's been going on for about an hour now...
You use the little head mobility you have to turn in the direction of the noise. Turns out, the noise is just the small people are building a stage. How very normal!
A few of the little people climb up onto the stage and begin to deliver a seemingly well-written speech. If only it was in a language you could understand. They look very put together, at least!
You're getting kinda hungry...
I understand being hangry, but that's a bit far, Gulliver.
You raise your hand to your mouth to imply that you are hungry. Their leader, or as they seem to call it, hurgo, orders for multiple ladders to be pushed against your sides so the small people can bring baskets of meat directly to your mouth. You briefly wonder what sort of meats these are, and then ask for a drink using the same body language method. They quickly bring you two big barrels of wine, which you feel is very kind of them.
Oh, wouldn't it be fun to just pick up about forty of them and throw them...?
GULLIVER! Have some sense! They've been so kind to you. What a horrible thing to do to these nice people after they fed you.
You're right. They were kind enough to give you food and a drink. How awful it would be if you just showed up, unannounced, ate their food, and then killed them...
A small man of high rank climbs up onto your body and speaks again in that language you don't understand. They seem to be taking you somewhere, maybe their capital. Although you'd prefer to walk, they don't allow this, and instead they carry you around with a wood frame held up by many wheels. About nine hundred men were needed to push it... they must be very smart people if they're able to build a structure like this. And kind, too, since they didn't immediately kill you when you arrived.
Eventually, you reach your destination. Your left leg is quickly locked (using 36 padlocks) to a large temple. Since you're now able to stand, you see the environment for the first time. It's beautiful, but looks like a small theater set.
Your next few weeks are... interesting. You meet the emperor of these so-called Lilliputians, who, no matter how hard you try, cannot understand any language you speak. When he leaves, you are left with disobedient guards who try to shoot you with arrows. Their punishment is left up to you, but you decide to let them go. Eventually these small humans build you a bed. You notice they constantly argue about you, stating that you could cause a famine due to your large appetite or maybe you'll break loose and cause chaos. Thankfully, due to how kindly you treated the disobedient soldiers, the small humans decide to treat you well. They feed you, clothe you, and even teach you their language, which you use to beg for freedom. After spending lots of time with the emperor, you are given freedom... assuming you're willing to help build things, deliver messages, and fight alongside them in wars.
...you'd rather be stuck here forever?
With your new freedom, you decide to travel to Mildendo, the capital city. Citizens are ordered to stay inside while you visit, and you carry with you a stool made from cut-down trees so that you can sit to see things more clearly.
You meet with a government official, Reldresal, who explains to you that the kingdom is in danger due to a rebel group and a foreign empire. He explains how the kingdom is broken up into two factions (the high-heeled Tramecksan and low-heeled Slamecksan) and how the kingdom fears invasion by the Blefuscu island. Blefuscu and Lilliput's conflict began with... a disagreement on which side of the egg to break first. The two islands disagree on what their holy text, the Brundrecral, says about this. It says that "all true believers shall break their eggs at the convenient end," which can be interpreted in different ways.
A war has been raging ever since. It sounds very serious. You are asked to help them win.
I guess you'll just live the rest of your life here as a prisoner and die, then. That sounds nice.
You help out by going to spy on the Blefuscu empire. Obviously, this doesn't work due to your size. You can't exactly be sneaky...
Instead, you use your intimidating size to horrify the citizens, and take hold of their boats, which you bring back to Lilliput. The Lilliputians treat you as a hero, which is nice for a while, until you're asked to take more and more boats. The goal is to destroy their military entirely.
In theory, this sounds like a great idea to you. But what if they take these innocent people and make them into slaves? That's not good.
You decide you aren't comfortable stealing all the boats. This disagreement with the emperor causes some people to turn on you, but deep down you know you did the right thing. Your kindness even leads to the surrender of Blefuscu, ending the war, and you are invited to visit.
Your good deeds are piling up, and you're now a Nardac, which is a person of a very high ranking. You no longer have any duties to the Lilliputians, but you still help them out when necessary.
Not long after you are awarded your status, you hear the cries of many people in the middle of the night. You're led to the emperor's wife's room, which is engulfed in flames!!
How are you going to try to stop the fire?
Gosh darn it Gulliver. You forgot your coat! You don't have enough time to go get it!!
In a moment of desperation, you look around for any sort of liquid that could put out the fire.
Then it hits you.
Oh- but it's a crime to do that... I shouldn't.
Or should I? I need to save the emperor's wife.
Well. It had to be done.
You saved the emperor's wife, but at what cost? You're sure you'll be punished for the crime of public urination. Thankfully, the emperor pardons you... but the emperor's wife definitely doesn't want to live in that room anymore. Must smell a bit weird.
You spend much of your time now learning about the Lilliput people. They're strange to you, but interesting nonetheless. Good behavior is rewarded very highly in Lilliput, especially honesty. Children are raised by the entire kingdom. There are no beggars because the kingdom takes care of the poor. It's unfamiliar to you, but not necessarily bad.
You decide it's time to go. It was nice to visit- oh no! On your way out to Blefuscu, a court official appears and tells you that you've been charged with many crimes: "public urination, refusing to obey the emperor’s orders to seize the remaining Blefuscu ships, aiding enemy ambassadors, and traveling to Blefuscu."
Rather than being executed, Reldresal has reduced your sentence, and asks that they only poke your eyes out. How kind of him... they will also starve you slowly. This all begins in 3 days!
You cross the channel and arrive in Blefuscu. Thankfully, three days later you see a ship (your size!) overturned in the water. You ask the Blefuscu emperor to help you turn it over. He even defends you from the Lilliputians, who demand to take your eyesight. Eventually, you find yourself back home in England. You make a great profit showing off some of the little farm animals you took from Blefuscu, and all is well.
In your time as Gulliver, you experienced many hardships that frankly would not have been an issue had you just minded your business and not gone out to sea. Although it’s not inherently wrong to travel, Gulliver’s Travels is a satirical work that highlights the ridiculousness of British colonialism. Through the character of Gulliver, we learn that other societies have their own forms of government and hierarchies, and they’re fine without any “help” from the British. Even when Gulliver gains the trust of the Lilliputians, they still try to punish him for his crimes, because he is in no way above them or their laws. This just goes to show that the British idea of “kindness” is not always what the native people want or need. I hope that, through your journey as Gulliver, you learned the importance of doing what’s right vs doing what you want. To go back to the beginning, click here.