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Gulliver's Travels

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 06:28 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 60.5 
  • Words: 787
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One of the most interesting questions about Gullivers Travels iswhether the Houyhnhnms represent an ideal of rationality or whether onthe other hand they are the butt of Swift's satire. In other words, inBook IV, is Swift poking fun at the talking horses or does he intend forus to take them seriously as the proper way to act? If we look closely atthe way that the Houyhnhnms act, we can see that in fact Swift does nottake them seriously: he uses them to show the dangers of pride.         First we have to see that Swift does not even take Gullverseriously. For instance, his name sounds much like gullible, whichsuggests that he will believe anything. Also, when he first sees theYahoos and they throw excrement on him, he responds by doing the same inreturn until they run away. He says, "I must needs discover some morerational being," (203) even though as a human he is already the mostrational being there is. This is why Swift refers to Erasmus Darwinsdiscovery of the origin of the species and the voyage of the Beagle--toshow how Gulliver knows that people are at the top of the food chain.         But if Lemule Gulliver is satirized, so are the Houyhnhnms, whosevoices sound like the call of castrati. They walk on two legs instead offour, and seem to be much like people. As Gulliver says, "It was with theutmost astonishment that I witnessed these creatures playing the fluteand dancing a Vienese waltz. To my mind, they seemed like the greatesthumans ever seen in court, even more dextrous than the Lord Edmund Burke"(162). As this quote demonstrates, Gulliver is terribly impressed, buthis admiration for the Houyhnhnms is short-lived because they are soprideful. For instance, the leader of the Houyhnhnms claims that he hasread all the works of Charles Dickens, and that he can singlehandedlyrecite the names of all the Kings and Queens of England up to George II.Swift subtly shows that this Houyhnhnms pride is misplaced when, in themiddle of the intellectual competition, he...


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