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Study Questions for Swift's Gulliver's
Vocabulary: yahoo, satire,
travel narrative, Enlightenment
Lecture or Handouts:
Identify the following characters:
Lemuel Gulliver, Lilliputians, Houyhmhns
Identify the following places:
Lilliput, Blefuscu, Brobdingnag, Laputa,
- Summary of Part I:
- What is Lemuel Gulliver's job on the ship?
- When Gulliver arrives in Lilliput, what is unusual physically
about the Lilliputian people in contrast with the people
- With what neighboring country are the Lilliputians at
- What threat does the King of Lilliput make against Gulliver
if Gulliver will not help the Lilliputians enslave the
enemy country? (I.e., how will the Lilliputian injure
Gulliver if he doesn't cooperate?)
- Summary of Part II:
- What is unusual about the inhabitants of Brobdingnag
when we contrast them physically with the people of Europe?
- How tall is the farm-laborer in Brobdingnag who finds
Gulliver in the wheat field?
- To what family member does the farmer entrust Gulliver
as a "pet"?
- How does the farmer make money from his "pet,"
- After Gulliver's health takes a turn for the worst,
to whom does he sell Gulliver?
- What is the King of Brobdingnag's conclusion about the
nature of Gulliver's race when Gulliver explains the policies
of his human civilization?
- Summary of Part III:
- What unusual trait does the island of Laputa possess?
- What is the primary interest of the Laputan people?
- What military advantage do the Laputans gain by the
nature of their island that allows them to terrorize other
- The Grand Academy of Lagado parodies what famous British
- Glubbdubdrib is a land inhabited by people with what
- Part IV:
- Chapter I: In Gulliver's fourth voyage,
what is the name of the ship he captains?
- What do James Welch's buccaneers/mutineers do with
Gulliver after taking over the ship on May 9th, 1711?
- How does Gulliver end up being left marooned?
- What Bristol captain takes Lemuel Gulliver out on the
fateful voyage from Portsmouth?
Several men on the ship die of calentures. What are calentures?
- What horrible discovery does Lemuel Gulliver make about
the men he hires in the Barbadoes islands? (I.e., what
do these new recruits end up doing on the voyage?)
- Strange half-shaggy, half-hairless creatures assault
Gulliver on the island. What do we later learn is the
name of these creatures?
- When Gulliver first encounters the Yahoos, they surround
him and fling what material at him from above in the
- What type of animal frightens away the horrible creatures
that attack Lemuel in the fields?
- Gulliver comes up with two incorrect theories about
the inhabitants of the island after encountering his
first Houhyhmhn. What is his first theory regarding the
mental traits of the
on the island
if the horse is so special? What is his second theory
regarding the "magical" nature of the horses?
- While the "horses" examine Gulliver, what
causes him to "roar" as he puts it?
- What is a yahoo? What is ironic about Gulliver's sense
of revulsion about seeing these Yahoos?
- Chapter II:
- When the horses take Gulliver out to the yard, he finds
three yahoos tied to a beam where they are eating animal
corpses. When Gulliver looks at the beasts more closely,
he discerns the true identify of these creatures by looking
at their faces, hands, and feet. What does he realize
these animals are?
- Why does Gulliver think he is going to starve after
the Houynyhyms take him into their custody?
- What do the Houyhnhnm eat at dinner?
- What is a Houyhnhnm?
- Chapter III:
- What two human languages does Gulliver think closest
to the Houynhm language?
In the Houynyhm language, what does the word Houynhnhm
The Houynhhm are incapable of expressing several human
ideas in their language. List any one of these.
- When three months have passed, and Gulliver can speak
with the Houyhnhm, he learns much in conversation. How
does the Master Houyhnhm respond when Gulliver tries to
explain he comes from another country and that he sailed
to the island in a boat built by humans?
- What is the etymological root of Houyhnhm or
horse in the Houyhnhm language?
- Why is Gulliver unwilling to take off his clothes in
front of the Houyhnhm? How does the Master Houyhnhm respond
to Gulliver's claim that Nature forbids him to be naked?
- Chapter IV:
- What does "saying the thing that was not"
indicate in Houyhnhm language? Why does this make the
Houyhnhm so confused and uneasy?
- When Gulliver attempts to explain the condition of his
crew to the Houyhnhm, he keeps hitting holes in his vocabulary.
What are some concepts he has that have no equivalent
in the Houyhnhm language? List three.
- Chapter V:
- When Gulliver explains to his master the causes of
war, Swift has him list dozens. List any one example
of these possible causes. What is Swift's point about
these specific motivations for going to war?
- Why does Gulliver's master think that humans should
be incapable of actually injuring each other in a war?
How does Gulliver convince him otherwise?
- When Gulliver tries to impress his master by emphasizing
the valor of the English in blowing up their enemies,
what does the master order him to do?
- How does Gulliver explain what a lawyer does to the
- Why does Gulliver say that lawyers seeking to argue
a just cause are at a disadvantage?
- Chapter VI:
- Why does the
Master find it hard to understand human illness?
Swift's joke about medical prognostics--i.e., why are
doctors so good at predicting deadly maladies?
- What three
methods do governmental ministers use to rise to power,
according to Lemuel Gulliver?
- What are the common traits
of the nobility, according to Lemuel Gulliver?
to Gulliver, what do people commonly believe about any
aristocrat who is healthy and strong in appearance?
- What does Gulliver ultimately come to believe about
the relative virtues of humans and Houhyhmhms?
to Gulliver's master, what species do the Yahoos hate
above any other species?
- The hnea-yahoo, or "Yahoo's
Evil," has an unusual
cure. What cure does Lemuel recommend for this? Who else
does he recommend this cure to besides the Yahoos?
the end of Chapter VII, Gulliver's master describes what
he has noted about Yahoo mating customs. How are
these Yahoo mating customs similar to European/human
- Chapter VIII:
- What does the stink of a Yahoo resemble?
- When Gulliver
holds a Yahoo cub in his hands, what does the cub do
to his clothing?
- What happens to Gulliver shortly after
this incident when he strips himself to bathe in a stream?
do the Houyhmhns treat strangers as opposed to the way
they treat friends? (trick question)
- How do the Houyhmhns
choose mating partners? What criteria do they use to
make these decisions?
- What four primary lessons are the
focus of education for the Houyhmhn young?
- In athletic
contests, what is the award given to a victorious young
- What happens in Houyhmhn society every fourth
year at the vernal equinox?
- What is the purpose of this
- Chapter IX: What issue do the Houyhmhn debate
in the grand assembly?
- What are the Houyhmhns customs
for funerals in the ten days before an elderly Houyhmhn
is about to die?
- Chapter X: How does Gulliver modify his
walking gait after spending some time with the Houynhmhns.
Why does Gulliver determine to flee the island in a boat?
What sort of animal skin does Gulliver use to fashion
- Chapter XI: After Gulliver
sails away from the island of the Houyhmnhns, he encounters
45 degrees latitude. How does these people greet or react
- Why does Pedro de Mendez have Gulliver chained
in his cabin?
When Gulliver is reunited to his wife and she kisses
him, what does Gulliver do for "almost an hour?"
XII: Why does Gulliver think it would
be a bad idea to attack the Lilliputians? The Brobdingnagians?
the Flying Island?
- Where does Gulliver allow his wife
to sit when he starts
dining with her again?
- What is the one fault in humanity
that Gulliver cannot be patient with--even though he
is not provoked by
pickpockets, fools, gamesters, whoremongers, lawyers,
- Finis: In his letter to cousin Sympson,
Gulliver lists several alterations the printer has
made to Gulliver's
book. Name one that Gulliver complains about.