Gulliver's Travels

the "island below" represented the subjects in the

this question is from gullivers travels part 3 chapter 3

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"A Phenomenon solved by modern Philosophy and Astronomy. The Laputians' great Improvements in the latter. The King's method of suppressing Insurrections."

Gulliver learns that Laputa is floating above Balnibarbi, the island on which he landed his canoe. Laputa contains 10,000 acres and is perfectly circular. It is able to move about the surface of Balnibarbi but not beyond its borders, and it can move up and down because of its magnetic forces. When a town from Balnibarbi acts up, the King has Laputa moved directly above it so that it can receive no sun or rain. No one from the Royal family is allowed to leave Laputa.

When Gulliver visits Balnibarbi, he finds that the people have suffered an even worse fate. Being unsuited for the intellectual life, they have tried to live on the basis of pseudo-academic life and have failed miserably. The land has become barren because the people neglect it completely. Instead they focus all of their attention on their ridiculous academics. By trying to be something they are not-that is, like many would-be intellectuals-the Balnibarbi people have lost what they once had, and now they are left with nothing. Swifts comments here on the importance of self-evaluation and living the life to which one is suited. There is elitism here, with the lower people needing to understand their natural place-but it is an elitism based on nature. A society needs many different kinds of people in order to survive, and not everyone should be an intellectual-and besides, the intellectuals do not do so well themselves.