Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

This book is available as an audio download from the YHS Library. Ask Ms. Hamilton or Mrs. Young for more information.

Group Members:
Sam C
Jack G
Jason B
Mr. S.*

Discussion Time:
Thursday January 7th 2W 7:55-9:25
Discussion Recording:


Introductions: Everyone introduce themselves.
-Who did and did not like the book? Why?

Clarifying Questions?:
-Why is this the most common depiction of the story Gulliver's Travels? It seems more important than the others.

•In our society today we consider ourselves to be the top of the food chain, the big cheese, el numero uno, when it comes to power over the world. If as humans we automatically dismiss these societies portrayed in Gulliver's Travels there is no room for us to develop our theories on life and the humanization of our world. Who thinks it is possible for other societies like the ones in Gulliver's Travels to exist? Is it possible that the ends of the earth still contain unknown races of under and over developed humans, as well as horses who can talk?
-How does the "the big cheese" view pertain to the world today?
•How well off is Gulliver's family? Would he have been the only of his five brothers to be sent to school? Which number kid is the smartest? Would his dad be proud of him after his fourth voyage?
•The ending? Do you like the way it ended?
-How is Gulliver portrayed by the inhabitants of each of the four lands?
-The first two lands that Gulliver travels to seem to make more sense than the last two. Two ends of the spectrum are super small people and super big people. The third and fourth journeys seem outliers in the original pattern of characteristics for the societies. Why did Swift use this order of societies?
-Do the worlds remind you of any real places?
-Why did Gulliver continue to leave England?
-What did you think of the scene with famous philosophers?

•This novel has four significant parts. In each part Gulliver visits a different land, or collection of islands, and each has it's own race of people and culture. Compare and contrast these four different lands with one another, with Swift's Europe, with today's society. Would you consider one of these lands to be a Utopia? Of these four lands which one would consider themselves the most Utopian?
-Do the worlds have any physical characteristics that are significant to the story, or the satire of the book?
-What is the significance of the floating land?
-In this book Swift proposes that there are thousands of square miles of landmasses that are undiscovered on our planet. Is this a significant piece of satire or is he just trying to make for a good story?

• Gulliver
• Lilliputians
• Giants
• Compare and Contrast Gulliver and the philosophers in the college.
• Houyhnhnms v. Yahoos
- Pirates: The guilt of religion

-A re-occurring theme seems to be Gulliver's capacity for learning. Was Gulliver an ambassador (peace keeper) to these newly discovered lands?
-Another theme was man's discontent, explain how Swift shows this idea.
-Are there any other themes anyone realized?
-After talking about these themes, did Gulliver change by the end of the book?

-Do you think Swift had a personal relationship with his story?
-Does the way swift tells the story make you think of any other book?

Writing Style?:
• Did this novel follow the typical guidelines of rising action, climax, falling action? If no, what format was it written in? Was this effective?
• Compare and contrast with Swift's other works, "A Modest Proposal"
-How do Swift's ideas compare to those of anti-transcendentalism?
-Did Swift's sarcasm effect the way you read the book?
- How easy was it for you to figure out the satirical aspect of the story?
- Do you think it was used effectively?
- Satire is often used to get a certain point across (racism in the south in Huck Finn, England's harsh rule and terrible living conditions in A Modest Proposal, American's
far-fetched diet in "Taco Town"). Do you think there was a specific point Swift was trying to make in this novel? Were there multiple? If so would this be an effective way to get this, or these, point(s) across to the public in the time period it was published?
-Who do you think the book was geared towards, what class and age group was taken into account when Swift wrote Gulliver's Travels?

Significant Passages?:
• Part III chapters IV, V, and VI
-Was using his size to help the Lilliputians steal their enemies ships an abuse of power? Would this follow the beliefs of an Englishman at this time?

What do the following quotes mean:
". . . as to those filthy Yahoos, although there were few greater lovers of mankind, at that time, than myself, yet I confess I never saw any sensitive being so detestable on all accounts; and the more I came near them, the more hateful they grew, while I stayed in that country." (Part IV, Chapter II)

"I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth." (Part II, Chapter VI)

-Final thoughts
-Re-visit important pieces of discussion

Outside Resources:
•"An Overview of Gulliver's Travels". Author: Karen R. Bloom. Source: Literature Resource Center (Accessible from Marvel)

Is this a representation of Gulliver's Travels?

Politics vs.... Blah

(Book Review)--------->