Study Guide

Gulliver's Travels

by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver's Travels Essay - Critical Essays

Sample Essay Outlines

The following paper topics are designed to test your understanding of the work as a whole and to analyze important themes and literary devices. Following each question is a sample outline to get you started.

Topic #1
Swift was known as an ironist. Show how Swift uses irony in the book to strengthen the points he is making.

I. Thesis Statement: In the book, Swift uses irony to strengthen the points he is making.

II. The point that politics is corrupt
A. Statesman as acrobats in Lilliput
B. The King of Brobdingnag’s disgust at Gulliver’s description of England
C. The ghosts in Luggnag
D. The dapple-gray’s disgust at Gulliver’s description of England

III. The point that human beings are vain
A. The jealousy that causes Gulliver’s fall in Lilliput
B. The jealousy of the dwarfs in Brobdingnag
C. The vanity of the empty ideas of the scientists in Laputa
D. Gulliver’s own vanity in thinking he understands everything about human beings and about reason after living among the Houyhnhms
E. Gulliver’s criticisms of colonization in the last chapter

IV. Conclusion: Gulliver uses a variety of occasions and techniques to make his points through the use of irony.

Topic #2
Who is the hero, in the sense of most sympathetic character, in Gulliver’s Travels? Is it Gulliver, the Houyhnhms, or the King of Brobdingnag?

I. Thesis Statement: There are sympathetic characters in Gulliver’s Travels, but most have flaws; the King of Brobdingnag has the fewest flaws.

II. Gulliver has the flaws of naiveté and vanity
A. His naive cooperation in all cases
B. His oversimplified ideas that all humans are equally bad and all Houyhnhms are equally good
1. Humans:
a. Feels little gratitude to Mendez
b. Is disgusted by his own family
2. Houyhnhms:
a. The dapple-gray and the sorrel are more sym¬pathe¬tic to him
b. The council is very unsympathetic; Gulliver does not really realize the differences
C. His excessive eagerness to leave his family and go on more voyages even after they turn out disastrously

III. The Houyhnhms are coldly logical and inhuman
A. They think themselves flawless and perfect
B. Their inhuman attitude to the family
C. Their inhuman attitude to...

(The entire section is 1006 words.)