Monday, February 8, 2010

Fallen Humanity

I found part 4 of Gulliver's Travels to be the most insightful of all the parts we read. Gulliver arrives on the Island of Houyhnhnms where the roles of humans (Yahoos) and horses (Houyhnhmns) are inverted. At the beginning, Gulliver portrays a very crude depiction of the Yahoos, creatures that look like humans, except maybe a little bit hairier. Gulliver describes the females saying that "Their Dugs hung between their fore feet, and often reached almost to eh Ground as they walked" (209). For the entire first part of part 4, Gulliver believes himself to be superior to these Yahoos, but after telling his "Master," who is a horse, all about the society he comes from, he realizes that he is essentially a Yahoo as well. Swift's disdain for the nobility comes out in his explanation that the nobility have a "weak diseased Body, a meagre Countenance, and sallow Complexion" (239). After all of this reflexion on the race he believed to be better than anything else, after spending time with the reasonable Houhynhmns, Gulliver starts to see human corruption when he "opened [his] Eyes, and enlarged [his] Understanding, that [he] began to view the Actions and Passions of Man in a very different Light" (240).

Towards the end, Gulliver can no longer look at his own reflection, as all he sees is fallen humanity, and he is ashamed to be part of the species of Yahoos. He becomes such a degenerate creature that he creates his clothes out of the skins of Yahoos, or essentially, humans. He cannot stand to live in a society full of corruption, and his disdain and hatred for the British is so great that he calls his wife an "odious animal," and says that the very smell of his own children was "intolerable" (271). The satire is very evident at the end when he says that after one year he allows his wife to sit with him at dinner at the opposite end of a far table, but Swift definitely illustrates the notion that while the British looked down at foreign people, they themselves lived in squalor, but they were too arrogant and blind to see it.

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