This is a course blog for the members of EH236 at the University of South Alabama, Spring 2006.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver’s Travels

In the beginning of Swift’s writing it is very questionable on how he feels about humankind and his own society, however, as we progress through the story, the reader can see how Swift’s opinion is portrayed through Gulliver. After he spends a long period of time with the “Houyhnhnms ,“ which are horses, he starts to address concerns about his own race. Throughout his stay, he is faced with some issues that make him question humans and the complex society that he lives in. Swift’s work becomes very misanthropic.

In the beginning of the story Gulliver is dropped off by his shipmates, and stranded on an island. He has no choice but to start exploring it. The first contact that he has with any form of life is with a “Yahoo,” which he describes as lazy, filthy, lustful, greedy, and aggressive. To him, they resemble an animal that acts as a hunter but in truth they are humans. He finds no desire to connect with . After a while he is introduced to another form of life, horses , known to the island as” Houyhnhnms.” He is taken to their “Master,” where he is demanded to stay. He learns their language and starts to communicate with the Master. He starts by telling him about his own race and where he is from and he tries to explain his society to him. During this time he is discovering his own mistakes and the ones that humans make. It becomes very hard for him to accept the society he came from. He learns their language on his own which impresses his master. Once he is able to carry on a conversation the master tells him that in their language they have no lies, as they call it to” say the thing that was not.” Their community is very pure and innocent. They have no desire to fight with one another or mistreat each other. The more Gulliver learns about their society to more he feels intrigued. Later during his stay he has a chance to learn about the Yahoos, which are very close to his race. He encounters a Yahoo female that wants to get friendly with him; however, he pulls away and decides that he has no desire to embrace humans of any form or kind. He starts to doubt if he ever wants to go back to his old life. Gulliver has discovered how bad humans really are and what they’re capable off. He doesn’t feel like he belongs with them. He becomes very hateful towards the human race and refuses to go back, even to his own family. He learns to love the community he’s with.

After a few years Gulliver had mastered the Houyhnhnm’s language and their rituals. He was content with living out his life with them. However, he is asked to leave the island by the Master because his tribe feels that even though he has mastered their language he still resembles a Yahoo and that is very much not acceptable in their community. In their presence the Yahoos are treated as animals, chained up. Out of the respect that he has towards his Master he has no choice but to set sail and return to his old life.

Eventually Gulliver succeeds in making it home, but finds out early that he does not fit in with the society he lives in. He doesn’t let his family anywhere near him and makes no effort to hide it. He feels as if the Houyhnhnms a perfect society that he found himself in sync with. He feels that he is surrounded by the Yahoo species and it strikes him with confusion and horror. In the search to cope with his situation he purchases tow horses. He feels that they’re the only creatures that can understand him. His behavior of not wanting to get back to his former life is a direct way of showing his dislike of humans in general. He can not tolerate his own family much less other people. He is drifting farther away from being a part of his society.

Swift made his work in the end very well read. It became very critical of humanity. He had no desire to explain any further than he already had. This made his work very “misanthropic”.


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