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Gulliver Travels By Swift Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin on November 30 in 1967. Swifts father was an English lawyer died while his wife was pregnant to Jonathan. Right after he was born, his mother left him to be raised by his brother. He graduated from Trinity College and started a masters degree, but left to join the Glorious Revolution. The object of this revolution was to convince James II (King of England) to abdicate the throne.

Swifts last years were a torment. He suffered awful bouts of dizziness, nausea, deafness and mental incapacity. In fact, Swifts harshest critics tried to discredit this book on the grounds that he was mad when he wrote it. But he wasnt. The Travels were published in 1726 and Part IV, which raised the most controversy, was written before Part III and Swift did not enter a mental institution until 1745.

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Swift was dean of St. Patricks Cathedral in Dublin when his novel came out. Since in this book he wrote about political figures, he published the book anonymously. It didnt take long for people to discover that the author was Jonathan Swift. Not only had he been involved in some important and heated political events of the time, but he was also a well-known political journalist and satirist whose style was quite distinctive. Gullivers Travels is the tale of Lemuel Gulliver as he voyages to the strange lands of Lilliput, Brobdingnag, the kingdom of Laputa, and the land of the Houhnnms.

(WHIN-NIMMS) Gulliver is the most important character in this novel. Hes the “author” of the Travels. Hes frustrating to deal with for a number of reasons. 1. Hes not steady; he changes in relation to the places he visits and the events that befall him as he voyages.

2. Hes often a victim of swifts satire. This means you have to be on your guard against what he says, even though hes the guide, you cannot follow him everywhere. 3. It’s impossible to feel relaxed with Gulliver.

Swift won’t let us trust him enough for that. 4. Because Gulliver directs a lot of his hostility toward us- readers beyond reform- we in turn feel hostile toward him. 5. Looking at Gulliver is a lot like looking in a mirror.

We are by turns fascinated, attracted, disgusted, and ashamed. You first meet Gulliver at the “end” of his story, in a letter he’s written to his publisher. By now Gulliver is out of his mind: he’s raving, he’s nasty, he lies, he’s proud beyond the limits of pride. But he wasn’t always. He grew up in Nottinghamshire, the third of five sons in a respectable, middle-class family. While in school he held jobs: as an apprentice, he proved his competence; as a physician, he was able to get work on ships, which had been his lifelong dream.

The first place he travels to is called Lilliput. People here are six inches high and Gulliver, in comparison is a giant, or a “man mountain” as they call him. This section of Part I is essentially an allegory of English politics in the early 18th century when the Whigs and the Tories were fighting over control of the country. His mission here is to aid the Lilliputians in their war against blefuscu (Lilliput represents England, Blefuscu, France) Gulliver literally seizes the enemy fleet and strides across the harbor with it back to Lilliput. For a short time hes a hero. But he urinates in a fire that saves the royal chambers, but he is impeached for disobeying an ordinance prohibiting public urination.

He escapes and then goes home to England. Part II begins in Brobdingnag. Gulliver here is seen cruel and vindictive just like the Lilliputians. One day hes at an outing with the King and Queen and his house “a box” is kidnapped by a bird and dropped in the sea. Its recovered by an English ship and he moves back to England.

Part III, Gulliver goes to the flying island of Laputa and some of its nearby colonies. Gulliver recedes in Part III. Not much happens to him personally, for the most part he recounts what he observes in the way of scientific experiments. Swift uses Gulliver to relate deadpan what he himself considers to be foolish attitudes and activities. Gulliver goes mad in Part IV. Presented with the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos, Gulliver tries desperately to become a Houyhnhnm, an animal governed entirely by reason.

He cannot, of course. Gulliver isn’t able to see the Yahoos as Swift intends them to be seen- as representing the worst traits in human nature, and the lowest level to which he might sink. Gulliver sees the Yahoos as mankind, period. Gulliver also misapprehends the Houyhnhnms. It is only to Gulliver- not to Swift- that these creatures represent a human ideal. Gulliver, neither Yahoo nor Houyhnhnm, can find no species to which he belongs, and so goes mad. The overarching theme of the novel can be said to be the question, “What is it to be human?” In this book you are exposed to a host of creatures and situations and systems that also help you wonder such themes like Human nature is petty What is good government? What are the values of reason? What are the limits of reason? And The sin of pride is the most dangerous sin of all The style of this novel is composed chiefly of satire, allegory and irony.

The book is very entertaining and it s written to vex you, to startle you into deep reflection and to invite debate.


Gulliver Houyhnhnms and Yahoos Animal Rationale or Rationis Capax What do the Yahoos and the Houynhnmns stand for? What moral was Swift drawing from them? The answer to the second question depends on the solution of the first. One solution could be that the Yahoos represent man has he actually is, self-seeking, sensual and depraved, while the Houyhnhnms symbolize what man ought to be, unselfish, rational, cultured. In the fourth voyage, Swift presents a case study for opposing states of nature, with the Yahoos representing the argument that man is governed by his passions, seeking his own advantage, pursuing pleasures and avoiding pain, and the Houyhnhnms representing the argument that man is governed by reason. If this is the case, then Swifts misanthropy was such that he saw men as the foul and disgusting Yahoos, and made it plain that reform of the species was out of the question. A major fault with this theory is that it leaves no place for Gulliver.

When attention is drawn to the figure of Gulliver himself, as distinct from his creator, Swift, he is taken to be the moral of the story. If you can’t be a Houyhnhnm you don’t need to be a Yahoo; just try to be like Gulliver. The trouble with this idea is that when taking a closer look at Gulliver, he isn’t worth emulating. The final picture of him talking with the horses in the stable for four hours a day, unable to stand the company of his own family, makes him look foolish Another theory is that Gulliver made a mistake in regarding the Houyhnhnms as models to be emulated: so far from being admirable creatures they are as repulsive as the Yahoos. The Yahoos might be ruled by their passions, but these have no human passions at all.

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On this view, Swift was not advocating, but attacking reason. The voyage does seem to have a slight religious moral also. One of the oldest debates in Christianity concerns the nature of man since the fall of Adam. He was so corrupted by that event that left to his own devices he was beyond redemption. His passions naturally inclined him toward vice, and his reason, so far from bringing him out of his vicious ways, led him even further into error. Only Divine Relevation could bring men back to the straight and narrow path of virtue.

Although man is naturally inclined toward evil, nevertheless his own unaided reason could bring him to a knowledge of moral truth. The connection of the fourth voyage to this debate is obvious. The Yahoos symbolize man as the incorrigible sinner. The Houyhnhnms symbolize man, directed by reason, into the path of righteousness. The Houyhnhnm word for to die is Lhnuwnh. The word is strongly expressive in their language.

It signifies, to retire to his first Mother. This is not a euphemism, for the Houyhnhnms cannot say the thing that is not. They have therefore some notion of existence after death, though of course they have not benefited from Christianity. Reason was not enough for the Houyhnhnms. It did not enable them to imagine a different country from their own, so that they accused Gulliver of lying when he told them that he came from over the sea.

They also failed to figure out what his clothes were. The Sorrel Nag who first discovered Gulliver undressed could only explain the sight by saying he was not the same thing when he slept as he appeared to be at other times. Gulliver could only show his master what his clothes were by undressing before him. The truth had to be revealed even to a Houyhnhnm. The moral of the encounter with the Yahoos and the Houyhnhnms is that Reason alone might be enough for men if they would only use it properly.

Yet instead of employing it as the Houyhnhnms did to eliminate passion, in the words of Gullivers host We made no other use of it than by its assistance to aggravate our natural corruptions, and to acquire new ones which Nature had not given us. Reason, instead of leading men into Virtue, led them into Vice. To the Houyhnhnms, therefore, they were not better than the Yahoos, they were worse: the Yahoos at least had the excuse that they were not endowed with Reason. Gulliver came to this same conclusion. Another key question is did Swift share the same view as Gulliver? After leaving the Houyhnhnms Gulliver finds his way back to Europe on board a Portuguese ship. Don Pedro, the captain, is an admirable man, and treats Gulliver with patience and hospitality, in spite of Gulliver’s treatment of him.

Swift presents Don Pedro as a paragon of virtue not so that he could be admired but to show the extent of Gulliver’s alienation from his own species. This was amply illustrated when Gulliver arrived back home. Five Years after his return he had still not brought himself to let either his wife or children hold his hand, and preferred the company of horses. This could be the extent of Swift’s misanthropy. In his letter to Pope, Swift wrote: I have got Materials towards a Treatise, proving the falsity of that Definition, animal rationale and to show that it should be only rationis capax.

Upon this great foundation of Misanthropy . . . . .

. the whole building of my travels is erected; and I will never have Peace of Mind until all honest Men are of my Opinion. To Swift, men were not like the Houyhnhnms, rational creatures; they were only capable of reason. This takes the edge off his misanthropy. Gulliver, then, was not Swift.

He was another mask, or persona of Swift. English Essays.


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