Study Questions: Gulliver’s Travels, Book IV

Chapters I-VI

1. Do Gulliver’s "Letter" (page iv) and his publisher’s "Letter" (page viii) influence the way we approach reading Part IV of Gulliver’s Travels? How do we distinguish Gulliver from Swift?

2. Is the relationship between Gulliver and his Houyhnhnm Master similar to the one between Adam and Raphael? 202-3

3. How would you compare the rational ideal of the Houyhnhnms with the role of reason in Milton’s paradise? Are the Houyhnhnms Swift’s idea of what prelapsarian man might have become, the Yahoos his idea of what postlapsarian man has become? 203, 215

4. What do you make of the fact that the Houyhnhnms have no literature, no vocabulary for lying or falsehood (203), little concept of doubt (207), and no terms for "power, government, war, law," or "punishment"? (211) Why does the Master react to Gulliver’s description of war by commanding him to silence? (215) Why are there classes of Houyhnhnms "always in the condition of servants"? 223

5. On the issue of freedom, would you say that Swift and Milton agree or disagree?

6. Beyond keeping us warm, what is the function of clothing in the land of the Houyhnhnms (204-5), Milton’s Paradise, Behn’s Naples, and Shakespeare’s Venice and Cyprus?

7. As a storyteller, does Gulliver face problems similar to of different from Raphael’s? 210, 212

9. From Gulliver’s narration to his Master, what can you tell about Swift’s political views?


10. What do you think of Gulliver’s definition of a soldier as "a Yahoo hired to kill in cold Blood as many of his own Species, who have never offended him, as possibly he can"? 214 What do you think of his definition of a lawyer? 215 His description of the medical profession? 220-1


Chapters VII-XII

1. What are we supposed to think of Gulliver’s experience with the 11-yr old female Yahoo? 228

2. What would Milton think of the Houynmnms’ concepts of perfection (233), virtue (234) and evil (234)? What would he think of the two creation myths for the Yahoos? 236-237?

3. In what respects do Houynmnm ideals reflect rather than contrast with defects in Swift’s modern human culture? 233-235

4. What are we supposed to think about the materials Gulliver uses for his shoes, canoe, and sails? 241, 246

5. How does Gulliver’s treatment by the Portugese sailors and their captain (Mendez) influence how we interpret his narrative? 250-251

6. How does Gulliver’s homecoming affect our interpretation of his adventures? 253-254

7. Do you think Gulliver’s goals for writing differ from Swift’s? If so, how? 257-258

8. Why does Gulliver end by denouncing Pride? 260

9. Of all the writers we read this term, who do you consider the most egalitarian?