OpenUW: A series of free courses presented by UW Educational Outreach
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 Part 1
Part One: Who Was Jonathan Swift?
 Part 2
Part Two: The Travels
Jonathan Swift and Gulliver's Travel*


Jonathan Swift and Gulliver's Travels

Jonathan Swift is known for his lively imagination, his biting wit, and his hatred of mankind. Swift had friends that he loved dearly, and was quite capable of appreciating the good aspects of human nature. It was society as a whole, with its imperfections and hypocrisy, that he detested. With Gulliver's Travels, his best-known work, Swift presents a humorous and scathing commentary on eighteenth-century England and human society in general.

Besides being a professional Christian, as priest and dean of St. Patrick's, Swift was a thoroughly political man, always motivated by society's injustices. It can be difficult to bring the terms Christian and political together, but Swift made it seem easy by exercising fantasy. His fantasy writing is remarkably carefully controlled, and measured in feet, inches, miles--whatever he needs and can get us to believe. As you will see in Gulliver's Travels, he can get us to believe quite a lot.

"Satire is a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own." --Jonathan Swift
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What You'll Learn

After completing this OpenUW course, you will be able to:

  • Describe elements of the "Swiftian" style, such as the mask.
  • Identify and discuss elements of satire in "A Modest Proposal" and Gulliver's Travels that reflect Swift's political and social experiences.
  • Use Gulliver's Travels and "A Modest Proposal" to describe eighteenth-century ideas of the nature of humanity and the universe.
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Recommended Reading

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