Summary and Analysis Part III: Chapter 4



Gulliver's discontent with being on this Flying Island increases, and so he is lowered to Balnibarbi where he visits Munodi, at one time the Governor of the city of Lagado. Munodi shows Gulliver around the island — and a most unusual island it proves to be. Except for Munodi's estate, which is flourishing and green, the land is completely eroded and barren. Munodi explains that everything changed after several people visited Laputa. These travelers came back dissatisfied with the way things were and established an "academy of PROJECTORS," the objective of the academy being to change the direction of all "arts, sciences, languages and mechanics" and "to contrive new rules and methods of agriculture and building." But none of their plans ever worked. Now the land is unproductive. Munodi's fields are bountiful because he follows the customs of his ancestors.


In Balnibarbi, Swift discredits the kind of intelligence that is interested in the way things work without considering the ends to be attained. Here (and later) he stigmatizes the amoral engineer. All the projects that Gulliver describes are parodies of undertakings seriously advanced by English scientists. To illustrate the sterility of the engineering mentality, Swift has each experimenter reversing a natural process. Swift then illustrates the relationship between the engineering intellect (that reverses natural processes) and politics. Munodi, for instance, was a good civil servant who did his job well. He incurred national disgrace, however, when he failed to beat time well during a concert. His crime: He offended an abstraction — music.

Of all the Balnibarbians, Munodi alone is obedient to natural processes. In caring for his estate, he respects and follows the precepts of his ancestors; as a result, his estate flourishes. Those who listen to the "projectors" and the scientific experimentalists cause their land to become barren and desolate.