Often, “Gulliver’s Travels” is referenced as a satire. How do you know this as the reader? Are there any characters or instances that suggest this? Does the language lend to the supposed-satirical nature of the book? If you disagree, why and what’s the evidence?
In Book 4, Jonathan Swift frequently reminds us of his clothes and dressing procedure. For example, in the third chapter, he undresses completely and requests that his master not reveal the secret of his body’s “false covering” (pg. 1341). Then later, in the eleventh chapter, he is persuaded by the Captain “to accept a suit of clothes newly made” (pg. 1364). What do you think is the significance of clothes in Book 4?
Does the narrator (Behn) ultimately seem to favor or disfavor colonialism? Consider how her attitude towards the native people has shifted from the first books.
Oroonoko’s fate is grand and dramatic as a classic “tragedy” (think Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”). What’s different is that Imoinda and Oroonoko both die by someone else’s hand. Why did they both accept their fates while smiling? Do you believe Oroonoko’s fears on page 1139 were accurate? Why or why not?
Oroonoko is a tale about Africans from a clearly Western viewpoint. How does the tale characterize Africans? How do these characterizations play into concepts of the “noble savage” or European colonialism?
How would you describe the role of the narrator? At what point do we understand the narrator is female? How does the first-person narrator affect the authenticity of the story?
Upon reaching Eden, Satan marvels at the splendor of the earth, describing it as a “terrestrial heaven” and claiming “with what delight I could walkt thee round”. It is clear that Satan certainly has mixed feelings about corrupting mankind, why do you think he ultimately decides to go forward with his endeavor? What does Satan’s decision to corrupt man say about his personality?
Consider and discuss Milton’s version of the scene between the serpent (Satan) and Eve compared to how it unfolds in Genesis. Why does Milton focus so much on Eve’s beauty? When she presents the fruit to Adam, how does his reaction compare to what we see happen in Genesis?
Given that Milton has spent much more time and effort thus far in portraying Satan’s character and plight, what do you make of the portrayal of God and the goings on in heaven in the beginning of book III? What do you think are the implications of Milton’s less complex and less powerful portrayal of God? Feel free to draw in a particular moment, detail, or example.