To her I chiefly owe my preservation in that country: we never parted while I was there; I called her my glumdalclitch, or ‘little nurse’: and should be guilty of great ingratitude, if I omitted this honourable mention of her care and affection towards me, which I heartily wish it lay in my power to requite as she deserves, instead of being the innocent but unhappy instrument of her disgrace, as I have too much reason to fear.
Gulliver describes the forty-foot-tall child who takes care of him during his time in Brobdingnag. A knowledgeable nine-year-old farmer’s daughter, she sews clothes for him, takes care of his personal needs, and keeps him from harm. In all Gulliver’s travels, Glumdalclitch represents the person with whom he has the closest personal relationship. Gulliver depends on her for survival, and her fate also becomes bound up with his.
The poor girl laid me on her bosom, and fell a weeping with shame and grief. She apprehended some mischief would happen to me from rude vulgar folks, who might squeeze me to death, or break one of my limbs by taking me in their hands. She had also observed how modest I was in my nature, how nicely I regarded my honour, and what an indignity I should conceive it, to be exposed for money as a public spectacle to the meanest of the people.
Gulliver describes how Glumdalclitch treats him like a living doll but loves him dearly. She views Gulliver as a real person with emotional needs. Here Glumdalclitch responds to her father’s plans to make a profit by displaying the little man to the public. Her attitude reveals that the giants of Brobdingnag are not as evil and frightening as their immense size makes them appear.
Her Majesty agreed to my petition, and easily got the farmer’s consent, who was glad enough to have his daughter preferred at court: and the poor girl herself was not able to hide her joy.
The farmer who found Gulliver sells him to the queen of Brobdingnag. Gulliver will soon become a favorite toy for the king and queen. Here, Gulliver explains that the queen agrees to his request that Glumdalclitch be allowed to take care of him. As always, Gulliver exhibits a strong sense of self-preservation and a remarkable ability to persuade his captors to treat him well. Glumdalclitch feels happy because she can stay with Gulliver, but also because she will now live at court.
I was every day furnishing the court with some ridiculous story; and Glumdalclitch, although she loved me to excess, yet was arch enough to inform the queen whenever I committed any folly that she thought would be diverting to her Majesty.
Gulliver reveals how Glumdalclitch’s love for him does not stop her from using him to her own advantage. She uses his mishaps as a tiny person to amuse the queen. Gulliver’s observation reminds us that to Glumdalclitch and the queen, he represents little more than an intelligent toy. Readers understand that Gulliver exists as a prisoner, living in a cage totally dependent on their whims.
How often did I then wish myself with my dear Glumdalclitch, from whom one single hour had so far divided me! And I may say with truth, that in the midst of my own misfortune, I could not forbear lamenting my poor nurse, the grief she would suffer for my loss, the displeasure of the Queen, and the ruin of her fortune.
While trapped in his box that an eagle snatches and drops into the sea, Gulliver reflects on Glumdalclitch, his affectionate nurse. Facing certain death, Gulliver displays concern for another other than himself as he worries about Glumdalclitch’s future. Gulliver’s worry reminds us that the whims and favors of monarchs change quickly and arbitrarily.