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THE STORY - SUMMARY AND NOTES
In this chapter Swift makes a wry comment on the pomp and inhumanity that
he feels often characterizes royal rule. Gulliver is made to lick the
dust before the stool of the king of Luggnagg. Because he is a stranger,
the floor was swept before his arrival, so Gulliver got only a small mouthful
of dust. Enemies of the king, however, receive no such amenity as a clean
floor, and often they literally choke on the dust. After Gulliver completes
this act of homage, he must say the customary greeting: "May your
Celestial Majesty outlive the sun, eleven moons and an half." What
do you think of this greeting? Does it seem respectful, or is it an indication
that the king is a pathological egotist?
In Luggnagg Gulliver meets the Struldbrugs, a group of people who are immortal. At first Gulliver is delighted at this notion, assuming that these beings enjoy perpetual youth. He finds out, however, that Struldbrugs are not forever young, they are eternally aging. They are exempt from neither illness nor senility, and at age 80 they are declared legally dead, which means that their property and wealth are passed on to the relatives who would be their heirs if they were to die. From then on the Struldbrugs live on a pittance doled out by the government. Gulliver concludes that the last thing he would ever want is to live forever.
What do you think of immortality as lived by the Struldbrugs? What do you think Swift is telling us about his perceptions of aging and treatment of the elderly?
Gulliver leaves Luggnagg. He has an "uneventful" trip to Japan where he catches a ship home to England.