Analysis Of Gulliver's Travels By Jonathan Swift

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Are we humans simply brute animals, or are we capable of being rational, intelligent creatures? These questions are discussed in Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, but the answers are primarily left up to the personal discretion of the reader. Both perspectives are analyzed. Gulliver bears an undeniable resemblance to the brutish Yahoos, but he also shows the Houyhnhnm-like characteristics of reason and language. This satirical book is used to draw attention to how brutish and unreasonable humans can be, even though most of the time we don 't recognize this about ourselves. The author gives both perspectives of the first question, and he suggests that humans have some characteristics of both the Yahoos and the Houyhnhnms.

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He recognized that he resembled the Yahoos, yet he was thoroughly disgusted by the thought of them. During Gulliver’s first encounter with the Yahoos, he was appalled by their savage and grotesque ways. He found it very disturbing when the Houyhnhnms compared him to the beasts. At first, the Houyhnhnms weren’t sure what to make of Gulliver. They thought he was a Yahoo, but they’d never seen a Yahoo so calm or so hairless. “The Houyhnhnms who came to visit my master, out of a design of seeing and talking with me, could hardly believe me to be a right Yahoo, because my body had a different covering than from others of my kind” ( ). The horses were beginning to see that Gulliver was actually very different from the brute, unreasonable creatures. The Houyhnhnms were astounded when Gulliver, whom they thought was an unintelligent Yahoo, began to imitate them and speak a few words of their language. “I did not succeed in this so well as the former, but after two or three farther trials, I had better fortune, and they both appeared amazed at my capacity” (248). The Houyhnhnms recognized that the capacity for language showed intelligence and reason. After living with the Houyhnhnms for some time and mastering their language, the general assembly of the land ordered that Gulliver must either live with the Yahoos or swim back to where he came from. The household of Houyhnhnms knew they couldn’t put him with the Yahoos, since he had reason. Because of his reason, he would be able to organize a revolt if he chose. When Gulliver realized he had to return to his country, he was devastated at the thought of returned to a less-than-perfect world. “...how could I think with temper of passing my days among Yahoos, and relapsing into my old corruptions, for want of examples to lead and keep me within the paths of virtue?” (303).

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