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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Morality and Ethics

We've spent a lot of time in this guide talking about Swift the satirist and hater: his criticisms of the hypocrisy and favoritism of King George I and his court, his disgust with learning for no p...

Lies and Deceit

We see Gulliver lying all the time, as when he tells the Japanese Emperor that he is a Dutchman, or when he attempts to prevent the Houyhnhnms from discovering that his clothes are not part of his...

Society and Class

Gulliver is a bit of a snob. He loves moving among what he calls "people of quality," and he believes that there should be clear distinctions maintained between servant and noble families. If there...

Politics

Gulliver does not approve of politics, at least, as they are practiced in contemporary times: court intrigue is what gets him driven out of Lilliput. He also remarks that the passion the Laputians...

Foreignness and 'the Other'

As Gulliver sails around the world, what he finds is that he may as well have stayed at home: everywhere he goes, familiar political problems emerge. In Lilliput, he encounters petty partisanship a...

Science

We see lots of different science in this book: both the Lilliputians and Gulliver are pretty good with mechanics and engineering, the Brobdingnagians emphasize practical scientific education, and t...

Gender

Gulliver's attitude towards women seems somewhat contradictory, to say the least. He seems to associate women with gross sexuality. He talks about prostitutes as carriers of STDs that bring down no...

Literature and Writing

Obviously, Gulliver is a linguist. He spends a lot of time laboriously documenting all kinds of (completely made up) words, presumably to give himself some authority as a man who has actually visit...
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