"A Modest Proposal"
(1049) ~ He has a beneficial idea acquired from an American. It turnes
out that he is proposing cannibalism. He is using irony to make people
see the logical conclusion to their attitudes toward the Irish.
(1050) ~ let’s you know who he’s really attacking – landlords. They have
devoured the Irish. He computes in very dispassionate terms the costs
& benefits of eating babies. Only in places like this does he
let his anger show through. Such cracks is the facade are necessary,
or people will think the satirist is really making such a proposal.
Problem is in Ireland. 17th Century, Cromwell invaded because
they were Catholic and England Protestant. Obtained surface control.
After the Glorious Revolution, William of Orange quelled a rebellion.
This is why the Catholic Irish hate orange.
Landowners were in England; exploited all profits, leaving little money
Whigs also took advantage of cheap labor.
(1049 & 1052) ~ women compared to cattle ("constant breeders." Hint
that he is not serious.
(1049) His Proposal. ~ 20,000 babes would be preserved. Other 100,000
would be sold for meat. Baby skin could be used to make fine gloves.
Of course, he doesn't really want this to happen, but in the 20th century,
the Germans did make gloves, lampshades, etc., with the skins of their
(1052-1053) ~ This is his actual proposal. He has in mind several steps
to take that would relieve the suffering of the Irish. Rest of story
is to show British upper class the damage they are causing.
(1054) He claims to have no personal interest in profiting from his
proposal - his children are too old to be sold as food. Obviously,
the real meaning is that he doesn't have to worry about his children being
eaten, so he does have an interest in the proposal.
This is also a satire. The "Modest Proposal" satirized essays
that claim to solve social ills.
Gulliver's Travels uses the adventure novel to satirize English
society. By looking at Englond through the lense of other cultures,
Swift shows us how irrational English institutions were. This process
is called making strange, i.e., making the ordinary seem strange
by looking at it in a new way.
"Making Strange" – distorts size, shape of people. Makes natural/normal
seem odd. Gulliver spent much time trying to explain British ways to horses
who cannot understand it.
Part 1 ~ he’s captured by Little Endians; Lilliputians. They’re
6 inches tall. Very corrupt and superficial (The war between the Little
Endians & the Big Endians is over whether eggs should be broken
at big/little end? He sees a similar irrationality in the religious
wars of his country.)
Part 2 ~ This is the reverse of part 1 – Now he is captured by 60
foot giants who are morally superior. Views mankind as under a microscope
or as an insect
Part 3 ~ "Digression on Madness." He visits Laputa, Balnibarbi,
Glubdubdrib, Luggnagg, and Japan.
Part 4 ~
Yahoos ~ savage animals who look & act like humans.
Houyhnhms – intelligent horses who rule the island.
Part 3 Chapter 2
This chapter satirizes our own institution - the university.
The Laputans are so caught up in thinking that you can't get their attention.
How DO you get a Laputan's attention?
What is distinctive about their island?
What music do they listen to?
How do they write books?
What is unusual about the Struldbruggs?
Is this an advantage or a disadvantage?
What special marital law do the Struldbruggs have?
Summary: Gulliver’s crew conspires against him and throw him overboard.
He swims to an island inhabited by Houyhnhnms ~ horses who govern
the land ~ and Yahoos ~ degraded, deformed humans who behave like
beasts. He is befriended by one of the horses who teaches him their language.
Once they are able to converse, Gulliver discovers they are far more superior
and that humans are much like the wild Yahoos. They do not know how to
lie, cheat, and fight. They are governed by reason and thus have no need
for laws. Two principal virtues are benevolence and reason. Gulliver learns
to admire and respect them and eventually begins to detest all "Yahoos"
including himself. He lives with the horses for 3 years until his "Honor"
forces him to leave (because the other horses felt it disrespectful for
him to associate with such a lesser creature). He eventually makes his
way back to England. He can’t stand the sight or smell of his wife or kids.
What type of creature does he first meet when he comes to the island?
What saves him?
He describes the Yahoos. What does he find unsettling about their
Why do the Houyhnhms consider his appearance to be superior to the Yahoos?
What enexamined stereotype on Swift's part does this reflect.
How do the Houyhnhms describe a lie?
Notice how he describes his crew. What do they do that makes them
resemble the Yahoos?
Describes religious conflicts in a way that makes England sound like Big
Endians & Little Endians.
What effect did English colonialism have on the original inhabitants?
Criticizes lawyers, judges, court system.
What are the 3 ways of getting ahead at the king's court?
How do the Yahoos treat another Yahoo who has fallen from power?
Why does he leave the Houyhnhms?
What does he think of people when they find him?
How's he spend his time now?
He quotes Virgil to support his truthfulness, "nor if Fortune had moulded
Sinon for misery, will she also in spite mould him as false and lying."
Of course, Sinon when he said that was lying - his job was to persuade
the Trajons to bring the Trojan horse into Troy.