Essay on English Society and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels

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English Society Exposed in Gulliver's Travels         

    In Gulliver's Travels, Swift takes us to many places that serve as a looking glass for the foibles of English society, but none of the places are as severe a censure of men as Houyhnhnmland. Here Swift has made a clear division of pure reason, embodied in the Houyhnhnms (maybe he was refering to "horse sense"), and raw passion, embodied in the Yahoos (which are "coincidentally" very manlike). Here Gulliver has to make the choice between Houyhnhnms and Yahoos, reason and passion. He initially rejects the Yahoos because of their repulsiveness to him, but at the same time he doesn't embrace the Houyhnhnms either. He still wants to cling in many ways to his English heritage, but his discussions with his master proves to himself, despite his asserted differences, that he and his English society are really Yahoo!


When I thought of my family, my friends, my countrymen, or human race in general, I considered them as they really were, Yahoos in shape and disposition, perhaps a little more civilized, and qualified with the gift of speech; but making no other use of reason than to improve and multiply those vices, whereof their brethren in this country had only the share that nature allotted them.

Thus Gulliver is faced with this decision again between Houyhnhnm and Yahoo, but now he sees Yahoo as being himself and country. He decides to reject Yahoos and his former self and embrace Houyhnhnms and reason. I believe chapter ten to be the crucial chapter in the book, because Gulliver decides to abandon all things "Yahoo," and in the same chapter Houyhnhnms and reason decide to reject Gulliver.

In the beginning of chapter ten, Gulliver relates his happy lodg...

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...f the Satirist. Berne: Peter Lang Publishers, Inc., 1992.

This book focuses on the way Swift employs fictional devices into his satires, and argues that it is this ability that allows gives his literature the great subtelty it posseses.

* Gravil, Richard ed. Gulliver's Travels: A Case Book. London: The Macmillan Press LTD, 1974.

As the title indicates, this book is a casebook or a collection of pertinent essays concerning the scholarship of Gulliver's Travels.

* Rowse, A. L. Jonathan Swift: Major Prophet. London: Thames and Hudson, 1975.

This book is a biography of Swift's life and relations.

* Ward, David. Jonathan Swift: An Introductory Essay. London: Methuen & Co Ltd, 1973.

This book contains Ward's critical thinking concerning many works of Jonathan Swift, including Gulliver's Travels.

* Gulliver's Travels - Home Page


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