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Gulliver’s Travels

Jonathan Swift

Key Facts

Main ideas Key Facts

full title  · Gulliver’s Travels, or, Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, by Lemuel Gulliver

author  · Jonathan Swift

type of work  · Novel

genre  · Satire

language  · English

time and place written  · Approximately 1712–1726, London and Dublin

date of first publication  · 1726 (1735 unabridged)

publisher  · George Faulkner (unabridged 1735 edition)

narrator  · Lemuel Gulliver

point of view  · Gulliver speaks in the first person. He describes other characters and actions as they appear to him.

tone  · Gulliver’s tone is gullible and naïve during the first three voyages; in the fourth, it turns cynical and bitter. The intention of the author, Jonathan Swift, is satirical and biting throughout.

tense  · Past

setting (time)  · Early eighteenth century

setting (place)  · Primarily England and the imaginary countries of Lilliput, Blefuscu, Brobdingnag, Laputa, and the land of the Houyhnhnms

protagonist  · Lemuel Gulliver

major conflict  · On the surface, Gulliver strives to understand the various societies with which he comes into contact and to have these societies understand his native England. Below the surface, Swift is engaged in a conflict with the English society he is satirizing.

rising action  · Gulliver’s encounters with other societies eventually lead up to his rejection of human society in the fourth voyage

climax · Gulliver rejects human society in the fourth voyage, specifically when he shuns the generous Don Pedro as a vulgar Yahoo

falling action  · Gulliver’s unhappy return to England accentuates his alienation and compels him to buy horses, which remind him of Houyhnhnms, to keep him company

themes  · Might versus right; the individual versus society; the limits of human understanding

motifs  · Excrement; foreign languages; clothing

symbols  · Lilliputians; Brobdingnagians; Laputans; Houyhnhnms; England

foreshadowing  · Gulliver’s experiences with various flawed societies foreshadow his ultimate rejection of human society in the fourth voyage.