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Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift Essay

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In the fourth book of Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift uses satire to draw reader’s attention towards his concerns about humanity and uses irony to reveal his cynical views towards human kind. According to the Great Chain of Being, a term developed by the Renaissance that describes a divinely hierarchical order in every existing thing in the universe, human beings are placed a tier higher than animals (http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english /melani/cs6/ren.html). However, by comparing human traits with unpleasant qualities of animals, Swift blurs the definition of human being and questions the hierarchical place of human. In the fourth book of Gulliver’s Travels, Gulliver starts his journey as a well-educated European person who is considered to be a decent example of humanity. The first group of inhabitants Gulliver finds on the island where he is dropped off on are the Yahoos. Gulliver is disgusted by the behaviours of these wild creatures at first and he considers them to be animals that are owned by the dominate beings on this island. Gulliver then discovers the Houyhnhnms whom he perceives as brute beasts (Swift 2420) and animals (ibid.) because they share similar physical qualities compare to the horses in England. After a brief interaction with the two Houyhnhnms, Gulliver is taken to the house of a Houyhnhnm whom he will later refer to as his master. Through the interactions with the Houyhnhnms, Gulliver is able to show the ability to reason even though he shares some physical similarities with the Yahoos. Due to this quality and the fact that the Houyhnhnms cannot see his bare skin under his clothes, he is able to live with the Houyhnhnms. Gulliver starts to relate himself more to the Houyhnhnms than the Yahoos becau...


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...Chain of Being. Although human are reasonable beings, Swift argues that the amount of reason is not enough to overcome the desire for power. Thus, instead of using reason to create peace and harmony in the world, powerful countries allow desire to overtake their conscious and produce chaos under the name of “Divine Right”. As Gulliver tries to relate his society to the Houyhnhnms’; he comes to accept that reason in human does not help to improve humanity but only to breed barbarity because they use reason to justify their heinous actions.



Works Cited

Melani, Lilia. "Introduction to the Renaissance." Introduction to the Renaissance. English
Department, Brooklyn College, 30 Mar. 2009. Web. 08 Feb. 2014.

Swift, Jonathan. "Gulliver's Travels, Part 4." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Eighth
Ed. Vol. C. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2006. 2418-462. Print.



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