The author is granted opportunity to visit the Academy of Lagado where new experiments are conducted in hopes that these results might make the lives of the people simpler; however many of the experiments are years in progress with no end in sight, and most are absurd, whereas they will never succeed. For example, Gulliver observes one man attempting to extract sun-beams out of cucumbers and putting them into vials to be released during mild summers; another man is trying to “reduce human excrement to its original food by separating the several parts”; or how about softening marble for pillows or pin cushions? And finally in the school of languages, professors are plotting to cut out syllables and parts of speech, or even eliminating words altogether, so that people instead carry hefty bundles of objects to display in conversation as opposed to using their lungs and tongue, which takes up too much energy and shortens lives.
Gulliver is greatly downhearted over the doomed people of Lagado who seem to find hope in continually doing things in senseless ways, such as taxing men based on their own virtues and other highly valued characteristics and taxing women according to their personal physical attributes. He was so discouraged, he soon considered returning to England.
After preparing to leave Lagado and travel to Luggnagg, Gulliver postpones his plans until a ship is available to him, and instead he journeys with two other willing travelers to Glubbdubdrib, an island inhabited with sorcerers and magicians whose governor is able to call up the dead. After meeting the governor, he proposes that Gulliver request whomever he desires to call from the dead, which he obliges, and, hence, he observes Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Caesar, Pompey, and even speaks with Brutus. Awesome!
While it is a great opportunity to converse with the ancients like Homer, Aristotle, and Descartes, the decision to call up numerous kings and their ancestors of Europe proves to be an unforeseen displeasure for Gulliver. After such an experience, Gulliver looks upon modern history as a perversion of the truth; whereas men who were considered war heroes are truly cowards, those of piety are atheists, or those of wise counsel are fools, to list only a few; whereas many blameless and good people were condemned to death; and that many scoundrels had been trusted to high office. In the end, this knowledge causes Gulliver to foster a low opinion of human wisdom and integrity.