Jonathan Swift, 1667-1745
Published Gulliver's Travels - 1726
"Alternately considered an attack on humanity or a clear-eyed assessment of human strength and weaknesses, the novel is a complex study of human nature and of the moral, philosophical, and scientific thought of Swift's time which has resisted any single definition of meaning for nearly three centuries."
(from "Jonathan Swift: Gulliver's Travels." Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800. Ed. Jelena O. Krstovic. Vol. 42. Detroit: Gale, 1998. 290.)
Jonathan Swift wrote Gulliver's Travels in the 1720s when much of the world was not yet discovered. The novel takes place from 1699 to 1715. Gulliver, a surgeon, narrates his voyages to foreign lands and calls them "Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World In Four Parts...by Lemuel Gulliver." The novel is known as a classic children's story. It was originally received by audiences as merely an exciting adventure. People of this era enjoyed reading literature about travel into unknown lands.
On another level, the novel is known as a political satire. Different interpretations have occurred over the years as people discovered analogies between the historical and political events of the eighteenth century and the events in Gulliver's Travels. The novel was censored at times in the 1800s. Critics over the centuries have differed on whether Swift reflected his own views on subjects such as politics and religion or whether these are only the views of his fictitious character Gulliver.
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Suggested keywords: Gulliver's Travels, Gulliver, Swift, criticism, satire, politics, religion, travel...think of other keywords related to your theme and combine them to narrow your search.
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"Jonathan Swift: Theme of Disappointment," a Films on Demand segment (2 min.& 25 sec.) from the documentary film, Jonathan Swift: the Troubled Dean, produced by Films for the Humanities & Sciences. "Disappointment is a theme running through Swift's life. In Gulliver's Travels, he forces the reader to turn from misery and disappointment and turn to something positive."
Gulliver's Travels & Jonathan Swift on the Internet
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The Internet will be a wonderful source of original documents. Browse the sites we have suggested below. Remember, you do want to find reputable sites. Look at:
Complete the Evaluating Information Checklist if you're not sure you have a reliable or credible source.
The following sites have been reviewed by librarians at the college:
The Victorian Web – from the National University of Singapore. Includes author Jonathan Swift (although he wrote before the Victorian era) – information on his biography, works, political and social history, attitudes about science and religious beliefs.
Study Guide by former English teacher Michael J. Cummings with tutorials, plot summaries, themes, imagery, analysis, and background information.
from Project Guttenberg
from the University of Virginia
The 18th century had many significant political and religious conflicts, such as the Tories vs. the Whigs (political parties), Catholics vs. Protestants, war between England and Ireland and a simultaneous war between England and France, and controversy over the ruling of Ireland. Swift was born in Ireland in 1667, but spent many of his adult years in England. He returned to Ireland in his mid-40s, becoming an advocate for the independence of Ireland. Gulliver's Travels was published after Swift's return to Ireland.
An understanding of the time period when Gulliver's Travels was written as well as when it takes place may be helpful in writing your paper. You may want to utilize the following resources to further study 18th century history, politics, and religion.
GETTING HELP FOR YOUR ASSIGNMENT
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Support for a successful paper is more than finding the right resources. Putting it all together takes time and effort. Sometimes it takes additional help from the librarians or tutors. Please consider the following resources if you need additional help. Remember, the expert on the assignment is your professor, who can be contacted through your LSC Online in-class email.
Citing Sources Using MLA Style | Lone Star College-Kingwood Library guide. Examples of both paper and electronic citations.
Avoiding Plagiarism | Excellent information and guide on how to avoid plagiarism from the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University.
University of Texas Copyright Crash Course | This helpful guide on copyright is suggested by Lone Star College-Kingwood Teaching and Learning Center.
The Learning Center | Check the TLC hours for in-house tutoring.
Page by Carolyn Harty, May, 2003. Updated 09/2012, BB..