Gulliver’s Travels

by: Jonathan Swift

The Queen of Brobdingnag

The Brobdingnagian queen is hardly a well-developed character in this novel, but she is important in one sense: she is one of the very few females in Gulliver’s Travels who is given much notice. Gulliver’s own wife is scarcely even mentioned, even at what one would expect to be the touching moment of homecoming at the end of the fourth voyage. Gulliver seems little more than indifferent to his wife. The farmer’s daughter in Brobdingnag wins some of Gulliver’s attention but chiefly because she cares for him so tenderly. Gulliver is courteous to the empress of Lilliput but presumably mainly because she is royalty. The queen of Brobdingnag, however, arouses some deeper feelings in Gulliver that go beyond her royal status. He compliments her effusively, as he does no other female personage in the work, calling her infinitely witty and humorous. He describes in proud detail the manner in which he is permitted to kiss the tip of her little finger. For her part, the queen seems earnest in her concern about Gulliver’s welfare. When her court dwarf insults him, she gives the dwarf away to another household as punishment. The interaction between Gulliver and the queen hints that Gulliver is indeed capable of emotional connections.

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