Gulliver's Travels Suggested Essay Topics
by Jonathan Swift

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Suggested Essay Topics

Part I, Chapters 1-4
1. Discuss Gulliver’s progress from chained alien to important ally of the Lilliputians.

2. Define satire and describe how it is used in these chapters, using examples from the text.

3. Discuss the transitions in the tone of these chapters, from travel book to description of an alien society to satire on English politics.

4. Discuss the relationships between Gulliver and the Emperor of Lilliput, Skyresh Bolgolam, and Reldresal.

Part I, Chapters 5-6
1. Discuss the decline of Gulliver’s fortunes in Lilliput in Chapters Five and Six.

2. Define irony, and how it is used in Chapters Five and Six.

3. Discuss Swift’s facility of changing from one narrative style to another, and discuss how these changes fit into the plan of the book.

4. Discuss the changes in Gulliver’s relationship with the people of Blefuscu.

Part I, Chapters 7-8
1. Discuss the total collapse of Gulliver’s position in Lilliput and its causes.

2. Discuss Gulliver’s disillusionment with politics.

3. Discuss the literary techniques by which Swift describes in a relatively few pages Gulliver’s transition from condemned criminal in Lilliput to returned traveler in England.

4. Discuss elements of political satire, satire of the human condition, and satire of the traveler’s tale in these chapters.

Part II, Chapters 1-2
1. Discuss the way Swift uses the difference of scale between Gulliver and the Brobdingnagians to literary effect.

2. Discuss the way changes in tone advance the narrative in the first two chapters of Gulliver’s second voyage.

3. How does Swift ironically comment on human frailty in these chapters? Discuss.

4. Discuss the changes in Gulliver’s relationships with the Brobdingnagians in these chapters.

Part II, Chapters 3-4
1. Discuss the attitude of the King of Brobdingnag to England, and Gulliver’s attitude toward it, as satire of human frailty.

2. How does the description of Brobdingnag in Chapter Four use the difference in scale between Gulliver and the Brobdingnagians? Discuss.

3. How does Gulliver’s trouble with the dwarf satirize human frailty?

4. How do Chapters Three and Four deepen the reader’s understanding of Brobdingnag in general? Discuss.

Part II, Chapters 5-6
1. How, in these chapters, does Gulliver’s sense of human frailty deepen? Discuss.

2. Discuss the King of Brobdingnag’s reactions to Gulliver’s patriotic description of England.

3. Discuss the ways in which the King of Brobdingnag appears as the most sympathetic character in the book, in fact as an ideal king.

4. Compare and contrast the King of Brobdingnag’s opinions of the human race and its frailties with the opinions of Gulliver.

Part II, Chapters 7-8
1. Compare Gulliver’s political views, as stated in these chapters, with those of the King of Brobdingnag.

2. In what way do Brobdingnagian books display Swift’s ideals? Compare these ideals with the beliefs Swift puts in the mouth of Gulliver. Discuss.

3. The Brobdingnagian army is organized according to Swift’s political views. Discuss.

4. In what way does Gulliver’s return to England represent the third voyage’s repeated emphasis on human frailty? Discuss.

Part III, Chapters 1-3
1. Discuss the various devices Swift uses to convey the excessively theoretical, impractical, nature of Laputan society.

2. Although Laputa is depicted negatively by Swift, the Laputans have made some positive discoveries. Discuss.

3. How do Gulliver’s activities in Laputa differ from those on his first two voyages? Discuss.

4. Discuss political satire in these chapters.

Part III, Chapters 4-6
1. The Academy of Lagado suggests that Swift thinks “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Discuss.

2. Discuss the way the Academy of Lagado satirizes political events in England and Ireland in Swift’s time.

3. Discuss the Academy of Lagado as a satire of intellectual tendencies in Swift’s time.

4. Discuss how the satire of the Academy of Lagado relates to Swift’s vocation as an Anglican clergyman.

Part III, Chapters 7-9
1. Discuss the use...

(The entire section is 1,018 words.)