18th Century Handout

English 203

Dr. Fike


Pope's The Rape of the Lock


  1. How does Pope mock the epic tradition?
  2. What is the function of Ariel, the sylphs, and the gnomes?
  3. What's going on in the card game?
  4. What does the language at I.121-48 suggest about Belinda?
  5. How is chastity portrayed?
  6. What is the poet saying about virtue and especially about the way it gets trivialized?
  7. Do you find any allusions to Paradise Lost?
  8. What do Thalestris and Clarissa represent?  What do they say in their respective speeches?


Swift's "A Modest Proposal"


  1. Who is the speaker of this "proposal"?  Is it Swift?  Or is it a character he invents?  What aspects of the speaker's character emerge?
  2. To what audience does the proposal seem to be addressed?
  3. To what "previous proposals" does the speaker refer?
  4. What is the "modest proposal," exactly?
  5. What advantages and disadvantages to the proposal emerge?
  6. Near the end, what other proposals for solving the "Irish problem" does the speaker mention in passing? Are these sound?  Why have they been rejected?
  7. Where does Swift seem, in this piece, to lay the blame for Ireland's current conditions?
  8. What problem(s) is Swift criticizing?
  9. How does this essay work as satire?


Swift's Gulliver's Travels


  1. Where do you think Gulliver falls on a continuum between Yahoo (total passion) and Houyhnhnm (total reason)?
  2. One would think that the Houyhnhnms are an ideal worthy of emulation.  Is that true or not? In what ways are they less than ideal?
  3. What does Gulliver do with his realization?  Think, in particular, about his relationship with Pedro de Mendez and his reactions once he arrives home.
  4. To what extent may Gulliver's problem be that he cannot distinguish between surface and depth?