The struldbrugs are totally unique to Luggnagg. Gulliver is introduced to this term by "a person of quality" (3.10.2). (Gulliver loves speaking to people of quality, i.e., people of the upper class. Snob!) This unnamed person of quality asks Gulliver what he would do if he could live forever? Gulliver really likes this idea. He says he would make tons of money, learn everything there is to know in the world, and then spend all of his time talking to other immortals, who must be equally as brilliant as he would be.
The person of quality laughs at Gulliver's stupidity. The thing is, Luggnagg has immortals, the struldbrugs. Perfectly ordinary parents can have them, and they are marked by a dot above the left eyebrow that changes color as they grow older until it hits black at age forty. Oddly, the struldbrugs tend to have normal, mortal children.
These immortals, unlike our fantasies of, say, Edward Cullen in Twilight or Vampires Bill and Eric in True Blood, are not eternally young. They age normally up until age eighty, when, the Luggnaggians imply, most decent people have the sense to die. Once the struldbrugs hit 80 years old, they have "not only all the follies and infirmities of other old men" (3.10.13), but they are also extra-opinionated and cranky because they're worried about living forever.
Thus, the struldbrugs provide a satire of both old age and the dream of living forever. Gulliver's description of their decayed physical condition is pretty horrible, but their bodies aren't even the worst problems the struldbrugs face. The problems with living forever as an old person include:
- The marriages never last – in fact, by law, they get dissolved automatically at 80 – because no two people could stand each other for eternity.
- According to the law of Luggnagg, the struldbrugs become legally dead at 80 and can no longer hold their own property. This is to stop them from taking over the world and holding it forever (3.10.22). But in practice, it also means that the struldbrugs have to beg for all time.
- Language changes all the time. So, struldbrugs over the age of 200 generally can't understand the words of the younger generation, or even of younger struldbrugs.
Gullivers Travels: A Voyage To Laputa
The Laputans can be effectively characterized as a group of absentminded intellectuals who live on the floating island of Laputa. Gulliver encounters these people in his third voyage. The Laputans are parodies of theoreticians, who have scant regard for any practical results of their own research, they are so absorbed in their own thoughts that they must be shaken out of their meditations by flappers. These servants walk around with Laputans all day, holding special rattle-like equipment in their hands, which they rattle at the person's ear when two Laputans wish to converse. During Gulliver's stay at Laputa, he observes many distinctive characteristics of the people living here. They often start on an ambitious new project, only to leave it half-finished due to the physical complexities of construction. They speculate about the trajectory of comets or the eventual impact on the sun, while they should be thinking of improved ways to manage themselves and their property. Gulliver feels neglected on Laputa, since the inhabitants seem interested only in mathematics and music and are far superior to him in their knowledge.
The King of Laputa is a man of mathematical obsession who explains the laws of his land to Gulliver. He also decrees that the lands below Laputa should obey his laws. If they don't, they will have to face the consequences. He manages his kingdom in a very impractical manner, he is constantly pondering on the abstract matters of the universe rather than daily needs such as good housing, management etc. Much like the rest of his Laputan subjects he often thought of ideas that were almost physically impossible to construct. Gulliver also noticed that "although they are dexterous enough on a piece of
paper, in the management of the rule, the pencil and the divider, they are the clumsiest people Gulliver had ever seen in the practical life." The Academy, one of the king's
accomplishments, holds a collection of the world's smartest people, they join here to speculate about things that in no way improve the condition of their lives. For example, Gulliver noticed that...
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