Why Did the Small People of Lilliput First Try to Attack Gulliver but Then Provide Him With Food?

Why Did the Small People of Lilliput First Try to Attack Gulliver but Then Provide Him With Food?

In Jonathan Swift’s classic novel “Gulliver’s Travels,” one of the most intriguing encounters is the protagonist’s visit to the land of Lilliput, inhabited by tiny people. Initially, the Lilliputians attempt to attack Gulliver, but later, they start providing him with food. This shift in behavior can be attributed to several factors.

1. Fear and self-defense: The Lilliputians were initially terrified of the towering Gulliver, perceiving him as a potential threat to their society and safety. Their instinctive reaction was to attack, attempting to neutralize this perceived danger.

2. Cultural differences: The Lilliputians had never encountered someone of Gulliver’s enormous size before. Their culture and beliefs might have conditioned them to view anything unfamiliar as a potential threat, leading to their initial aggressive response.

3. Loss of power: The Lilliputians were initially unable to control Gulliver, who was physically far superior to them. This power imbalance fueled their aggression as a means to regain some control over the situation.

4. Realization of Gulliver’s peaceful intentions: As Gulliver remained passive and non-threatening despite their attacks, the Lilliputians began to comprehend that he might not pose a direct danger to their society. This realization prompted them to reconsider their approach.

5. Recognition of Gulliver’s potential value: Gulliver’s immense size and strength could be harnessed by the Lilliputians for their benefit. They saw an opportunity to utilize his abilities to protect themselves and enhance their own power.

6. Diplomacy and negotiation: The Lilliputian Emperor, upon learning of Gulliver’s peaceful nature, decided to engage in diplomatic discussions rather than resorting to continuous aggression. This shift in leadership set the tone for a change in attitude towards Gulliver.

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7. Humanitarian considerations: The Lilliputians, despite their initial fear and aggression, ultimately demonstrated compassion by providing Gulliver with food. This act suggests that they recognized his basic needs as a fellow being, emphasizing their capacity for empathy.


1. Did Gulliver retaliate against the Lilliputians?
No, Gulliver remained passive and did not retaliate despite their attacks.

2. How did the Lilliputians benefit from Gulliver’s presence?
They saw an opportunity to utilize his size and strength to protect themselves and enhance their power.

3. What prompted the Lilliputians to reconsider their aggression?
Gulliver’s non-threatening behavior and peaceful intentions made them realize he might not be a direct danger.

4. Did Gulliver eventually become friends with the Lilliputians?
While the relationship between Gulliver and the Lilliputians improved, it can be argued that true friendship was never fully established.

5. How did Gulliver’s encounter with the Lilliputians affect him?
This experience served as a catalyst for Gulliver’s reflection on human nature, power dynamics, and the flaws of society.

6. Did the Lilliputians continue to fear Gulliver?
Although their fear lessened, there were still instances where the Lilliputians expressed concerns about Gulliver’s potential danger.

7. What lessons can be learned from this encounter in “Gulliver’s Travels”?
The encounter highlights the importance of empathy, understanding, and diplomacy in overcoming initial fear and aggression.