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Flashcards in Jonathan Swift Deck (28):

When did Jonathan Swift live?



Where was Swift born?

Dublin, to English parents


Who was a contemporary and friend of Swift's?

Alexander Pope


What was Swift's occupation?



What was Swift's religious denomination?

Fervent Anglican (Protestant/Church of England)


What were two early works by Swift that brought him literary respect?

A Tale of a Tub and The Battle of the Books


What were Swift's political beliefs?

He originally aligned with the Whigs, but split with them over religious differences. He was welcomed by the Tories to their cause.


What text made Swift an Irish national hero?

The Drapier Letters; these letters actually resulted in political change that benefited the Irish. Even though a bounty was offered for the name of the anonymous author, no one gave Swift up (even though it was widely known that he was the author).


A Proposal for Correcting etc: When was this proposal written?



A Proposal for Correcting etc: To whom was Swift's letter addressed?

The Earl of Oxford and Lord High Treasurer of Great Britain


A Proposal for Correcting etc: What is Swift's primary concern?

If English isn't standardized, it will continue to undergo constant change. Eventually, it will get to the point where no one can understand the works that are being written today (just as those of Swift's days have a hard time reading Chaucer).


A Proposal for Correcting etc: During what time does Swift believe the English tongue most advanced?

Under Queen Elizabeth's reign (re: Shakespeare's time)


A Proposal for Correcting etc: During what time period does Swift believe the tongue most decayed? What specific examples does he cite?

He complains that language has decayed in the time sine the Restoration, and particularly blames the poets of this time period. He complains that their nonsensical abbreviations have been transferred to prose, causing the mispronunciation of words and changing their spellings.


A Proposal for Correcting etc: What "common misconception" about spelling does Swift attack?

That people should spell exactly has they speak. Since there are many dialects in England, this results in many different spellings. If we standardize spelling, this won't be a problem.

Interesting to reflect on the status of dialect in time of non-standardization.


A Proposal for Correcting etc: What specific problem do students pose?

They pick up slang and low words while out partying, and then these terms slowly work their way into the English language.


A Proposal for Correcting etc: How does Swift characterize men's spelling vs. women's spelling?

Men tend to leave out vowels; and ladies leave out consonants.


A Proposal for Correcting etc: How does Swift propose the problem be rectified?

He advises the High Treasurer to assemble a qualified committee, but doesn't offer a specific plan about who that should be or how it should function.


A Proposal for Correcting etc: According to Swift, what is the reason we understand any of what was written 100 years ago?

The Bible and language of the Church, which is old-fashioned. If not for their constancy in culture, we wouldn't be able to decipher it at all.


A Proposal for Correcting etc: Where was this essay originally published?

In the Tatler


A Proposal for Correcting etc: What warning does Swift give the Earl of Oxford?

That if he doesn't undertake the standardization of English, he will be remembered poorly by history.


A Proposal for Correcting etc: What is the risk for the nation if English isn't standardized?

If this age produces a truly Great Genius, his writing won't endure.

The High Treasurer has the chance as being remembered as the person who ensured that Genius has a place in history, rather than lost to obscurity.


A Proposal for Correcting etc: What does the "ascertain" of the title mean?



Gulliver's Travels: What is the full title of this book?

Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World by Lemuel Gulliver


Gulliver's Travels: In what ways might this text be responding to "Robinson Crusoe"?

- Opening paragraphs of background, career, etc.

- Episodic structure instead of narrative development

- Parodies Excessive “Realistic Details”

- Crusoe’s staying sane after 28 years on island

- travel narratives


Gulliver's Travels: What are some traits of the Brobdingnags?

- Enormous (compared to Gulliver)

- Humbling limitations of humankind

- They seem pretty perfect, but because Gulliver is able to see them magnified, he can see that they still have faults (like greed, exploitation, etc)

- They are moral giants (though they have some faults)

- Gulliver's own ego becomes an object of satire at this point in the novel

- Especially against gunpowder


Gulliver's Travels: What are some traits of the Lilliputians?

- Lilliput is similar to England (conflict with France-like country)

- political machinations/bureaucracy

- high heels/low heels mock Tories and whigs and the shallow differences between them

- Big-Endians and Little-Endians mock Protestants and Catholics (two sides of the same egg)

- Most like English culture; Swift is the "giant" looking down and mocking particular people and social practices.


Gulliver's Travels: Who are some of the specific people satirized in Book I?

- King George I

- Robert Walpole


A Modest Proposal: What is this whole story a metaphor for?

The English are devouring the Irish