This is a transcribed, classroom tested, lecture on all four books of Gulliver’s Travels (and a VERY brief mention of “Modest Proposal”) from an award-winning high school English teacher.
The lecture is 20+ pages (12 pt., Times New Roman, single spaced) and was transcribed from a series of lectures given before twelfth grade students. The lecture includes questions asked to students and was used with a variety of activities, including textual analysis (activities are not included), over 9 to 12 days.
Specifically, the lecture covers:
• Why the opening sentence is one of the most famous in English literature
• How Swift establishes the tone of the novel from the opening pages
• How Book 1 and Book 2 are asking the type of deeply philosophical questions that go back to the Greeks.
• How Gulliver’s Travels is reacting to Robinson Crusoe and why Swift called Dafoe that “stupid, illiterate little scribbler.”
• Why Swift is overly detailed.
• Why Gulliver behaves like he does in Book 1.
• Reasons why you wouldn’t want your friend to date Gulliver (and reasons why you would want that)
• The Lilliputians vs. Gulliver—who’s better
• Gulliver and his ridiculous reaction to being accused of an affair
• Why no one wants Gulliver at the end of Book 1, even though he’s the most powerful object in their universe.
• Who’s better, Gulliver or Brobdignagians?
• Why Swift comes up with such ridiculous names.
• Why Swift wants to destroy your self-esteem, and how Book 2 begins the assault.
• The Brobdignagian king and democracy.
• Gulliver and the “virtue” of gun powder.
• Signs of mental illness
• How Books 1 and 2 are like looking through different ends of the telescope
• Why Book 3 is often excluded from anthologies.
• Sir Isaac Newton as an inspiration for Book 3
• The Royal Society and the rise of scientific thinking
• The motto of the Royal Society and why it horrified Swift
• Why satirize science?
• The problems with scientific thinking.
• The ridiculous experiments of Book 3
• Book 4, the beginning of the end
• Critical interpretations of the end—hard school vs. soft school
• The Houynhmns and child rearing
• Did Gulliver really travel?
• Gulliver’s Travels and the Sixth Sense
• The savage irony about Swift’s demise
• How “A Modest Proposal” is an indictment of economic thinking