A detailed analysis of book 3 of Gulliver’s Travels, “A Voyage to Laputa. After some background information, the major theme of book 3, Swift’s criticism of misguided science and technology, is analyzed. There follows a chapter-by-chapter discussion of the themes, plot, satire, and symbolism of book 3. The last section of the handout analyzes the main characters and how they embody the main themes of the work.
The least popular of the four books of Swift’s masterpiece, book 3 is relevant today since it contains a blistering criticism of the folly of a technocrat-driven society. The ridiculous government-sponsored projects of the Laputan Academy, such as how to extract sunshine from a cucumber, rival those ludicrous scientific grants which governments around the world today sometimes bestow on universities.
My handout, which has blanks that your students can fill in, is suitable for a homework assignment or as an in-class activity. An answer key is provided on separate pages at the end of the handout.
Prepared by Professor William Tarvin, Ph.D., who has published many articles on literature in scholarly journals.