Yahoos – Unkempt humanlike beasts who live in servitude to the Houyhnhnms. Yahoos seem to belong to various ethnic groups, since there are blond Yahoos as well as dark-haired and redheaded ones. The men are characterized by their hairy bodies, and the women by their low-hanging breasts. They are naked, filthy, and extremely primitive in their eating habits. Yahoos are not capable of government, and thus they are kept as servants to the Houyhnhnms, pulling their carriages and performing manual tasks. They repel Gulliver with their lascivious sexual appetites, especially when an eleven-year-old Yahoo girl attempts to rape Gulliver as he is bathing naked. Yet despite Gulliver’s revulsion for these disgusting creatures, he ends his writings referring to himself as a Yahoo, just as the Houyhnhnms do as they regretfully evict him from their realm. Thus, “Yahoo” becomes another term for human, at least in the semideranged and self-loathing mind of Gulliver at the end of his fourth journey.
Lilliputians and Blefuscudians – Two races of miniature people whom Gulliver meets on his first voyage. Lilliputians and Blefuscudians are prone to conspiracies and jealousies, and while they treat Gulliver well enough materially, they are quick to take advantage of him in political intrigues of various sorts. The two races have been in a longstanding war with each over the interpretation of a reference in their common holy scripture to the proper way to eat eggs. Gulliver helps the Lilliputians defeat the Blefuscudian navy, but he eventually leaves Lilliput and receives a warm welcome in the court of Blefuscu, by which Swift satirizes the arbitrariness of international relations.
William Prichard – The master of the Antelope, the ship on which Gulliver embarks for the South Seas at the outset of his first journey, in 1699. When the Antelope sinks, Gulliver is washed ashore on Lilliput. No details are given about the personality of Prichard, and he is not important in Gulliver’s life or in the unfolding of the novel’s plot. That Gulliver takes pains to name him accurately reinforces our impression that he is obsessive about facts but not always reliable in assessing overall significance.
Slamecksan – The Low-Heels, a Lilliputian political group reminiscent of the British Whigs. The king has ordained that all governmental administrators must be selected from this party, much to the resentment of the High-Heels of the realm. Thus, while there are fewer Slamecksan than Tramecksan in Lilliput, their political power is greater. The king’s own sympathies with the Slamecksan are evident in the slightly lower heels he wears at court.
Gulliver – The narrator and protagonist of the story. Although Lemuel Gulliver’s vivid and detailed style of narration makes it clear that he is intelligent and well educated, his perceptions are naïve and gullible. He has virtually no emotional life, or at least no awareness of it, and his comments are strictly factual. Indeed, sometimes his obsession with the facts of navigation, for example, becomes unbearable for us, as his fictional editor, Richard Sympson, makes clear when he explains having had to cut out nearly half of Gulliver’s verbiage. Gulliver never thinks that the absurdities he encounters are funny and never makes the satiric connections between the lands he visits and his own home. Gulliver’s naïveté makes the satire possible, as we pick up on things that Gulliver does not notice
The king – The king of Brobdingnag, who, in contrast to the emperor of Lilliput, seems to be a true intellectual, well versed in political science among other disciplines. While his wife has an intimate, friendly relationship with the diminutive visitor, the king’s relation to Gulliver is limited to serious discussions about the history and institutions of Gulliver’s native land. He is thus a figure of rational thought who somewhat prefigures the Houyhnhnms in Book IV.
Don Pedro de Mendez – The Portuguese captain who takes Gulliver back to Europe after he is forced to leave the land of the Houyhnhnms. Don Pedro is naturally benevolent and generous, offering the half-crazed Gulliver his own best suit of clothes to replace the tatters he is wearing. But Gulliver meets his generosity with repulsion, as he cannot bear the company of Yahoos. By the end of the voyage, Don Pedro has won over Gulliver to the extent that he is able to have a conversation with him, but the captain’s overall Yahoolike nature in Gulliver’s eyes alienates him from Gulliver to the very end.