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Gulliver’s View of Humans

Their immediate surrounding influences the beliefs, traditions, and customs of human beings. A foreigner in a country or community usually finds strange beliefs and customs. Majority of the foreigners find it difficult to cope with the new traditions. Others, who have a spirit of adventure tend to fit right in. In Jonathan Swift’s adventurous story Gulliver Travels, the protagonist, Lemuel Gulliver accidentally finds himself in unfamiliar communities with different species of people and animal (Swift, 1995). Gulliver’s misfortunes land him in trouble with the natives of the communities because of the cultural differences. This essay attempts to analyze how the author symbolizes human beings in the story. The paper reflects on specific themes, arguments, motifs and philosophical concepts to answer the research question; which is a better symbol of man, Houyhnhnms or Yahoos.

Gulliver despises human beings because he associates the human community with negative things (Swift, Davis, & Williams, 1965). This is evident at the end of the story when he reflects on the ways of life of his people and that of the Houyhnhnms. His judgment is based on comparing the ways in which human beings behave and the ways in which the Yahoo’s act. Gulliver abhors his race because envy and lust characterize it. He describes these traits as terrible. He falls in love with the Houyhnhnms ways despite their negative perception of the human race. Although the Houyhnhnms have not interacted with the human, they judge the way humans are basing on the stories they hear. In addition, Gulliver associates the Yahoos with human beings. The Yahoos are filthy creatures with animal characteristics (Bloom, 2009). They, however, resemble human beings in appearance. Gulliver despises these creatures. He describes them as disgusting and stinky animals associated with negative traits like malice, and mischief. He emphasizes on their negative characteristics by calling them, vicious creatures. Human beings have similar attributes like corruption. Gulliver’s comparison of human beings to the Yahoos indicates the level of hate he has for the human race. He expresses his despair by saying the Yahoos are “the most filthy, noisome, and deformed animals which nature ever produced…”

Human beings have been associated with evil deeds like corruption and robbery. In Gulliver’s third voyage, his ship was attacked by pirates. The pirates (human beings) are portrayed as inhumane; they left the man in the middle of nowhere after robbing his ship. In addition, human beings have been presented as ungrateful species. When Gulliver was the captain of his ship, his crew overthrew him and left him alone in the sea. Such evil deeds done by human beings despised Gulliver. Greed is also common among humans. Gulliver does not want to admit that his own race may have similar traits to those of Yahoos, the creatures he despises. He wants to be associated with the well behaved Houyhnhnms. He even hates his own family. According to the author, Gulliver hates being married to a Yahoo and having Yahoo kids. He distances himself from his family after only a few months of staying together. After his return from his last voyage, his connection to the horses has grown stronger. He spends about four hours a day at the horse's stables to remind him of the Houyhnhnms. In addition, Gulliver was so attached to the Houyhnhnms way of life that he fainted when he was told to go back to his country. He was depressed about leaving the Houyhnhnms and their customs, which he had gotten used to (Bloom, 2009).

Gulliver loathes his race because he admires the Houyhnhnms way of life

Gulliver loathes his race because he admires the Houyhnhnms way of life, which is different from the human way of life. The author presents the Houyhnhnms as perfect creatures with minimal flaws (Swift, Davis, & Williams, 1965). They are kind animals. For example, Gulliver was rescued from the Yahoos by a horse. Similarly, the Houyhnhnms are unperturbed by politics, greed, and lust. These creatures are the complete opposite of humanity. Human beings are associated with greed, lust, and corruption. However, the Houyhnhnms manifest the nature of a few human beings who are innocent. Gulliver wants to be associated with Houyhnhnms instead of his kind. He even stays and learns their ways of life.

Gulliver also despises the selflessness exhibited by the Houyhnhnms creatures as opposed to individualism that is found in his people’s society. He, therefore, lacks a sense of belonging to his indigenous people; that’s why is always wandering the sea. Gulliver only stays with his family for few months before his voyages. He argues that despite the Houyhnhnms lacking proper names, they lack individuality. This societal cohesion intrigues Gulliver to the point that he griefs when asked to return to his country. Gulliver fainted after he was asked to leave the Houyhnhnms country.

Finally, Gulliver sees some similarities between the behavior Yahoos and human beings, but he refuses to accept that it’s the true identity of his people. Although ugly things like violence characterize the human race, Swift identifies the Houyhnhnms with the innocent human beings. Also, humans are intelligent and resourceful. They have the ability to learn. Yahoos are incapable of learning or following instructions. Houyhnhnms lack the ability to reason. They are also ignorant. He, therefore, views the human being a superior species. Gulliver is a surgeon from England, who is gifted in speaking many languages. Laputiants are intelligent in math and equations. They are however poor in practical things like construction. The human species is, therefore, more complete than all the other species.

The author of the story, Jonathan Swift vividly describes the appearance of both the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos as different from that of rational human beings. The Yahoos are human-like creatures living in the country of the Houyhnhnms. They were the first human-like creatures that Gulliver associated with in his many adventures. The Yahoos are described as filthy animals. According to Gulliver, the Yahoos are deformed creatures with thick hair covering their heads and breasts. The rest of their body is however bare. They often stand on their back feet. The Yahoos also lack tails. They resemble human beings. They are however stinky and filthy, just like animals. On the other hand, the Houyhnhnms are horses. They appear to live together and are naturally clean. They are therefore four-legged animals; their entire body is covered with fur. The Houyhnhnms are well-organized creatures. They are presentable. Their looks are entirely different from those of Yahoos and humans.

Jonathan Swift describes the Yahoos as noisy creatures. Their use of language is associated with filthy codes. They use the language to achieve their cynical behaviors like mischief, malice, and violence. Gulliver emphasizes their animal-like Behaviour by calling them vicious creatures with wicked qualities, just like human beings. The Houyhnhnms, on the other hand, speak clearly. The Houyhnhnms have simple laws that are followed to the latter. They use their clear language to act orderly and rational. According to Gulliver, the Houyhnhnms live in peace. There are no cases of greed and lust in the land of the Houyhnhnms. The author also describes the Houyhnhnms as noble and incorruptible creatures. He even refers to them as “perfection of nature.” The Houyhnhnms do not fall into temptations. The author, however, presents these species a naïve; they do not understand the concept of lying. According to Gulliver, the Houyhnhnms use their language to communicate productive things. They live by the proper code of conduct hence they are peaceful. They, however, lack individual names. Gulliver was shocked to find out that such a community did not have proper names for each individual. Finally, they used their language to enhance the spirit of togetherness. Gulliver mentions that the Houyhnhnms lack the sense of individuality which is common in humans. Their effective language use originates from their ration thoughts. Jonathan Swift emphasizes that Houyhnhnms are excellent and rational thinkers. Excellent communication is responsible for a harmonious way of lives of many communities.

Houyhnhnms and Yahoos Appearances.

The author of the story portrays the different behaviors of the two animals in relation to the human being’s Behaviour. Jonathan Swift describes the Behaviour of the Yahoos as a poor one. He says that their Behaviour is like that of the animals, despite them resembling humans in appearance. Gulliver hates the Yahoo's behavior after staying with them and observing their way of life.  The Yahoos are omnivorous species, they, however, prefer eating meat and garbage. Their eating habits shock everyone. They eat almost every food that is prohibited by the bible or Levitical food codes (Swift, 1992). The yahoos are fidgety and vicious. They are also incapable of being taught or instructed. The Yahoos are presented as mischievous and malicious creatures. Basically, their behaviors resemble that of the animals. Swift describes them as filthy creatures.

On the hand, the Houyhnhnms perceived to be the most “humanely” creatures in nature. Swift describes the Behaviour of these animals as rational and orderly. According to Kelly, A. C. (1976), the Houyhnhnms leave simple lives, governed by simple laws. They never break these laws. The Houyhnhnms are therefore not faced with cases of lust and greed. They uphold peace among themselves at all times. The horses are truthful creatures; they follow the true principle to the latter. They even do not understand the concept of lying. The Houyhnhnms unlike the Yahoos, are a perfect species capable of doing good deeds. Gulliver was saved from the Yahoos by a horse. In addition, the Houyhnhnms are incorruptible and cannot be subjected to temptation. They represent the innocent nature of some human beings. The Houyhnhnms are however naïve. They are ignorant of the concept of lying. Their ignorance is one matter that is deemed to be a vice in the moral world.

The Houyhnhnms also believe in family planning. They are strict with family planning. They want to maintain a good male to female ratio; they go to extreme measures of making a family that has two males to exchange one child for a family that has two females. Human beings also believe in family planning, in fact, most countries encourage this practice. The method is required to ensure the correct number of population in the states; that is, the economy can sustain the population. Family planning is essential in human beings because it creates high living standards in the families. However, it is inhumane to exchange children like property. No one should be forcefully separated from their families. It is ironical that Gulliver still admires the Houyhnhnms after the realization of this inhumane act of family planning.

The author of this novel has expressed several similarities between humans and the perfect species of the Houyhnhnms. The similarities lie in the behavior rather than the appearance (Bloom, 2009). Firstly, just like human beings, the Houyhnhnms live by a specific code of acceptable laws. Human beings have a judicial system that enforces the law to the citizens of the particular country. Laws are essential to govern people’s way of life. They prohibit potential disagreements that may result as a result of inconveniencing others by breaking the law. However, Houyhnhnms follow their rules without supervision. This is very impressive. Everyone in the Houyhnhnms country knows what good is and does it. Human beings need to be supervised to adhere to the laws of the land. There are even laid out punishment procedures to scare people from going against the specified law. Secondly, just like human beings, the Houyhnhnms exhibit emotions. The horse that saved Gulliver from the Yahoos was compassionate. They, however, chased away Gulliver from their country. They failed to show compassion even after Gulliver had fainted from the shock of being chased away. He had truly loved his stay with Houyhnhnms. He admired their way of life. The horses have clear speech, that is easily understood. Human beings also have clear languages although the languages may be different depending on the origin of the person. Gulliver understood many languages, he, therefore, found it easier to interact with the people of Houyhnhnms because of their clear language. Finally, the Houyhnhnms have family planning methods just like human beings. They, however, have extreme measures of making a family that has two males to exchange one child for a family that has two females. Jonathan Swift argues that the Houyhnhnms are a manifestation of the innocent nature of human beings. This is because of the many similarities between the two.

The author, Jonathan Swift has described a few similarities between human beings and Yahoos. According to Frantz, R. W. (1931), the similarities lie in both appearance and behavior. For example, Yahoos have been described to look like human beings. They have no tails and often stand on their hind legs, just like humans. Their bodies are bare except breasts and heads. Human bodies are also bare. However, the creatures are animals characterized by poor behavior that resembles that of some other humans. Both humans and yahoos exhibit vices like mischief, corruption, lust, greed, and malice. The author uses Yahoos to expose the negative things in human nature. Most countries have shown cases of fraud and corruption. It is also in human nature to be violent. In the story, for example, Gulliver was attacked by pirates. Also, humans are sometimes ungrateful or unreliable. When Gulliver was a captain, it did not take long for his crew to overthrow him and leave him wandering alone in the sea.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the novel teaches us a lot about human nature. The behaviors of both Yahoos and Houyhnhnms are symbolic to the practices of man in life. For example, the morality of the Houyhnhnms symbolizes the innocent nature of some humans in the society. The themes and motifs have been successful in delivering the intended message. According to Sullivan, E. E. (1984), it is ironical that although the Yahoos, are closely similar to humans in their appearance, their behavior portray the negative aspect of life. Similarly, the Houyhnhnms who resemble horses have the most humane behavior of all. The author has also used a satirical literary style to deliver his message effectively. According to Swift, J., Davis, H., & Williams, H. (1965), the entire book is satirical. Therefore, human beings should think of the type of society they would wish to leave it; the well-organized one like that of Houyhnhnms or the nasty one like that of Yahoos.

References

Bloom, H. (Ed.). (2009). Gulliver's Travels-Jonathan Swift. Infobase Publishing.

Eddy, W. A. (1923). Gulliver's travels: a critical study. Princeton University Press.

Frantz, R. W. (1931). Swift's Yahoos and the Voyagers. Modern Philology, 29(1), 49-57.

Kelly, A. C. (1976). Swift's Explorations of Slavery in Houyhnhnmland and Ireland. Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, 846-855.

Lund, R. D. (Ed.). (2006). Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's travels: a sourcebook. Routledge.

Rielly, E. J. (Ed.). (1988). Approaches to teaching Swift's" Gulliver's travels". Modern Language Association of America.

Sullivan, E. E. (1984). Houyhnhnms and Yahoos: From Technique to Meaning. Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, 24(3), 497-511.

Swift, J. (1992). A modest proposal. Cooking, Eating, Thinking: Transformative Philosophies of Food, 704, 353.

Swift, J. (1995). Gulliver’s travels. In Gulliver’s Travels (pp. 27-266). Palgrave Macmillan US.

Swift, J., Davis, H., & Williams, H. (1965). Gulliver's travels: 1726 (Vol. 11). Blackwell.

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