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

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Misanthropic Work

In order to describe if Gulliver’s Travels was a misanthropic work, I first wanted to make sure I really knew what a misanthropic work was. A misanthropic work, by definition, is one that is marked by a hatred or contempt for humankind. After reading Gulliver’s Travels, I firmly believe it is a misanthropic work due Gulliver’s description and views of mankind. Along with his descriptions of mankind, it is the conclusion that Gulliver is also a Yahoo that really grabbed my attention. This really says one thing to me about human nature: often times the things that we hate and pretend not to be are what we really are on the inside.

Gulliver is stranded on an island where the Houyhnhnms live, as well as Yahoos. After staying with the Houynhnms, Gulliver begins to learn their language. One of the first things he does is describe his country, England. Gulliver describes everything there is to know about England: the law, wars, even property disputes. During all these descriptions, the master is amazed to see how irrational humans are. After listening for months on England, the master comes to the following conclusion:
“That our institutions of government and law were plainly owing to our gross defects in reason, and by consequence, in virtue; because reason alone is sufficient to govern a rational creature; which was therefore a character we had no pretence to challenge, even from the account I had given of my own people….”
I believe Swift is trying to make a point that the things humans do are pointless, and often times unnecessary. Everything in the Houynhnms culture is for a reason, and although there society is not perfect, they valued friendship and benevolence above everything else. Humans tend to value glory, power, and wealth. It’s not just what humans value that the Houynhnms don’t understand, it’s also the way they act. When describing war, for example, the master can’t grasp why someone would intentionally harm someone from the same race. The Houyhnhnms have such a pure outlook on life that no words exist to describe the evil found in England.
Gulliver is at first appalled by the Yahoos, often times revolted by them. But he comes to realize this one important thing: although Yahoos may not dress or be as civilized as the rest of humanity, in reality humans were Yahoos by nature. Gulliver may have tried to fight this belief, even deny it, just like humans today do. Humans today describe how disgusted we are with the wars of the past and of the thousands of people who had to die for no reason. We describe how disgusted we are with how humans used to be, that we’ve matured, changed…gotten better. Sure, we have changed: we look different, talk differently, and have technology. But our basic nature is still the same: we fight, love, and murder. Gulliver realizes that humans are Yahoos, performing barbaric acts such as war, murder, even stealing. You can dress the creature differently, make him talk and walk differently, but one thing you can’t change: his nature. Gulliver found something out something that is still true today: you can’t make someone change who they are.

Stephanie Bosarge


Blogger ccmdude said...

I like your post a lot. You have a nice style when conveying your thoughts.
I think the only thing that could increase the credibility of it is the addition of some more quotes.
Otherwise, it sounds great.

4:38 PM  

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