The first part of Gulliver’s Travels begins with Lemuel Gulliver explaining his life so far. He is the third of five sons, and his family is too poor to keep him in school so they sent him away to become a surgeon. He learns from a man named James Bates. Then, he becomes a surgeon aboard a ship called the Swallow for three years. After that, he settles down with a woman named Mary Burton; but, when his business begins to fail, he travels at sea for six more years. Just before he decides to go home, he accepts one more job that gets him into trouble. The boat encounters a violent storm, in which twelve crewmen die and six others, including Gulliver, get on a rowboat and try to make it to shore. Only Gulliver makes it.
When he gets to the island, he decides to rest; when he wakes up, though, he finds that his arms, legs, and long hair have been tied to the ground with pieces of thread. Something crawls up his leg and over his chest, and when he looks down as far as he can, he finds a six-inch human with a bow and arrow. Gulliver screams when forty more small people crawl atop him, and one of them shout in a foreign language.
He struggles to get loose, but when he does the people shoot arrows into his body. He lays still until nightfall, and then a stage is built for a little person to stand on and make a speech in a language Gulliver does not understand. When he is hungry, the little people bring him food and drink. An official climbs onto Gulliver’s body and tells him that he is to be carried to the capital city. Gulliver wants to walk, but they tell him that that will not be permitted. Instead, they bring a frame of wood raised three inches off the ground and carried by twenty-two wheels. Nine hundred men pull this cart about half a mile to the city. Gulliver’s left leg is then padlocked to a large temple, giving him only enough freedom to walk around the building in a semicircle and lie down inside the temple.