Classic novels are just that: classic. They are infused with a universal magic that allows them to resonate throughout the ages. But what if we could travel back in time to when the classics were written? What else could we learn about the book and author?
Let’s take a journey to the 18th century into the world of Jonthan Swift and his most famous character, Lemuel Gulliver and find out more about his famous satire on human nature, society and politics.
- For this lesson you will need a laptop, a reliable Internet connection, a projector or an interactive whiteboard.
- You can go through the activities in 45 minutes, but of course you can spend more time visiting the websites or doing research.
- You can assign these activities to groups of 4-6 or pairs in your class.
- The groups or pairs can prepare either an online or paper-based poster, infographic or a presentation about the three topics.
- The lesson is recommended for students between 13 and 18.
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
(Level 3 reader adapted by Beverley Young and illustrated by Michele Rocchetti)
Look at the illustrations on pages 19 and 60 of Gulliver’s Travels .
- What did people look like?
- What do you notice about their hairstyle?
- How are men’s trousers different from today’s trousers?
- Pale Blue Silk ‘Mantua’ Gown, by Unknown Maker, 1710-20
- Brocaded Silk Gown, by Unknown Maker, about 1735
- Find more information and images here: Western Fashion 1700-1750 Wikipedia Page
Answer these questions for a general understanding of the time Gulliver’s Travels (1720s) was written.
- Who was the king of England in the 1720s?
- What happened in England 1721?
- What were the names of the two political parties in England in the 1720s?
Start browsing the web on this site: Timeline history for Kids
Read this passage from page 13 of the reader:
“I studied medicine at Cambridge University and got a job as a
doctor on a ship called The Antelope. In May 1699 we left England
for the South Seas. The journey went well until a violent storm
sent us completely off course and we found ourselves somewhere
in the East Indies.”
Go to Google Maps and mark the following place: Cambridge University, the South Seas (the sea in South-East Asia), East Indies.
- How far did Gulliver travel?
- How long do you think the journey took in 1699?
- How long would the same journey take today?
Why did he travel to the South Seas? Why were the East Indies important in the early 18th century?
History: British Trade
Gulliver travels as a doctor on a ship to the South Seas. Study the history of Britain to understand why people travelled there and why the area was so important.
- Visit the website of Encyclopaedia Britannica to learn more about the East India Company. What was it? What did they trade?
- Visit the external websites on the website of the encyclopaedia to learn more about the company.
- Visit this website and find references to the East India Company.
Prepare a poster or an infographic to present the following topics: Fashion, Travel and British Trade in the early 18th century in Britain.
Go to our Readers Catalogue to download sample pages from the reader: Gulliver’s Travels free PDFs.
Come back next week and learn about another era in British history.