’s Travels Essay, Research Paper
Lesley Betts p.2
January 30, 2001
CCB – Sanford
Literary Response to Gulliver’s Travels
1.) Interpret the ending of Book IV in Gulliver’s Travels. How are we to understand Gulliver’s very strange behavior?
In Book IV, Lemuel Gulliver’s fourth and final journey places him in the land of the Houyhnhnm, a civilization of intellectual, sensible horses, and senseless, inferior, and indecent humans. As Swift does throughout the novel, he ties his satire closely with Gulliver’s perceptions of the different world around him in his last adventure; these chapters do not change the method of Swift’s satire.
During Gulliver’s experience in the land of Houyhnhnm, he encounters the wise and friendly Houyhnhnms, or horses, which are superior to the Yahoos, or salve humans. Although Gulliver is referred to as a “Yahoo,” the Houyhnhnms treat him with more respect than their captives, due to his intelligent division from the Yahoos. In theses chapters Gulliver comes to realize how much he loathes the human race, after being in contact with the Yahoos.
Gulliver finds himself in a society controlled by creatures usually at the dispatch of humans, and in a sort of oblivion of his own, between the humane horses and the untamed, unruly Yahoos. The humans and their inability to compare to the Houyhnhnms instantly disgust him. Gulliver then grows fond of the Houyhnhnms and beings to enjoy life conversing with them about the differences in their worlds. He no longer desires to return to humankind.
Soon Gulliver is accepted as an intellectual among the Houyhnhnms. He begins to think of every human he has ever known as Yahoos, and no longer has any respect for them, he thinks of the Houyhnhnms as the most respected and well-mannered living things on the earth.
Gulliver is given a room, and is treated as a member of the family. However due to his acquired fortune, the Yahoos begin to complain and Gulliver is forced to return to Europe. He does not want to return to Europe, but decides that he would rather live with the barbarians that he once lived with, than with the uncivilized Yahoos.
When Gulliver does arrive in England, he is filled with disgust and disgrace for them. For a year he cannot stand to be with his family, but instead buys two horses and speaks with them.
Why is Gulliver’s behavior very strange at the end of Book IV?
Gulliver’s strange behavior can only be described as repugnance for the human race and the way that the society is. After living with the Houyhnhnms, and observing the lifestyle of the Yahoos, Gulliver sees himself and others as simply dumb Yahoos. This does not satisfy him, so he therefor chooses to converse with horses rather than his own kind.
Gulliver’s perceptions of himself and the people and things around him change, giving Swift a great opportunity to inject into the story both irony and satire of the England society of his day and the human condition. In this example, Gulliver’s attained hate for the human race, because of the Yahoos gives a perfect satire example of the community in England during that period.