Gulliver’s Travels

by: Jonathan Swift

Mary Burton Gulliver

Gulliver’s wife is mentioned only briefly at the beginning of the novel and appears only for an instant at the conclusion. Gulliver never thinks about Mary on his travels and never feels guilty about his lack of attention to her. A dozen far more trivial characters get much greater attention than she receives. She is, in this respect, the opposite of Odysseus’s wife Penelope in the Odyssey, who is never far from her husband’s thoughts and is the final destination of his journey. Mary’s neglected presence in Gulliver’s narrative gives her a certain claim to importance. It suggests that despite Gulliver’s curiosity about new lands and exotic races, he is virtually indifferent to those people closest to him. His lack of interest in his wife bespeaks his underdeveloped inner life. Gulliver is a man of skill and knowledge in certain practical matters, but he is disadvantaged in self-reflection, personal interactions, and perhaps overall wisdom.


More Help

From the SparkNotes Blog