Jonathan Swift, Satire, and Gulliver's Travels Lesson

Brook Brayman
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This lesson gives students background information on Jonathan Swift, a conceptual introduction to satire, and background knowledge on Gulliver's Travels, especially Part 4. It's a good lesson to use before "A Modest Proposal" too.
Below is the outline of the slides used in the lesson:
Jonathan Swift, Satire, and Gulliver's Travels Lesson
Biography of Swift
Satire-Definition and Examples
Background of Gulliver's Travels
Connections to the Project
Jonathan Swift, 1667-1745
Born in Ireland of English, Anglican parents
At a time when tensions between England and Ireland were high for political and religious reasons
Conflicts with the English government over his family's politics after the English Civil War and over his writing
Had a great sympathy for the Irish-became somewhat of a member of both cultures
Became the Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin
A literary form (poetry, prose, or drama) that exaggerates tendencies to make people laugh as a form of protest
Uses humor as a weapon
A more enlightened form of sarcasm
Can be subtle or blatant, and can be serious or silly
Examples of Satire
How Satire Works
Literal Satire: looks, feels, seems just like realistic art, but little things are exaggerated to show how ridiculous they are
Unrealistic Satire (like Gulliver's Travels): fantastic places and unrealistic settings serve as metaphors for the world we live in
When people laugh, they are more relaxed and willing to engage with a speaker or artist
When people see things that aren't them but who do the same things they do, they can look at those things more objectively
Gulliver's Travels
Travel narrative-Lemuel Gulliver goes to four places:
Liliput-the land of the small people
Brobdingnag-the land of the giants
Laputa-the land of the "scientists"
The Land of the Houyhnhnms-talking horses who have more reason than men
Gulliver's Travels
Liliput-Swift makes fun of people's pettiness; for example, two political parties fight furiously over which end of an egg should be cracked
Brobdingnag-By encountering giant humans, Gulliver shows us just how disgusting people are
Laputa-The scientists of Laputa are so busy with all of their imaginary learning that their wives go astray
Gulliver's Travels
The Land of the Houyhnhnms
In comparison to humans, horses seem very wise, just, and reasonable-so much for the Enlightenment
Gulliver comes to identify with the horses and not the Yahoos-a race of human-ish creatures that have all of humanity's worst qualities
What is a human? What is an animal? Are humans all that great?
Connection to the Project
Swift shows us slavery, racism, and genocide, and he asks us questions about all of them
He makes us question the Enlightenment and the very idea of civilization and who is civilized
Like many Enlightenment thinkers, he realized that Europe needed to humble itself
Lesson Completed-Good Job
I have provided a read-along for this
Be prepared to write about satirical episodes in the selections from the book that I have given you-like a metaphor, what's the tenor and what's the vehicle, and what's Swift's purpose for the satire?