Gullivers Travels: A Severe Indictment On Human Nature Through Satire

1769 words - 7 pages

An English Literature classic, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) follows the sub-genre of traveler tales and presents a severe indictment on human nature through satire. Swift uses satire in Part IV – “A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms” to represent the human and animal entities. In the fourth voyage, Swift is indicting the human species but a deeper reading of the text reveals that perhaps Swift is also satirizing the Houyhnhnms and the protagonist traveler, Gulliver. Swift is ridiculing Gulliver and his ideals that make him perceive the Houyhnhnms as a rational and intelligent species as compared to the Yahoos, the humans.
The following discussion examines the representation of the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos as examples used by Swift to explain the human condition. However, the paper iterates the stand that Swift maintained a conscious distance between him and the protagonist, Gulliver, and therefore, each has a different perception of humanity. The paper also focuses on the use of satire, irony and metaphor as tools to draw comparison between the vices and indifferent attitude of human nature.
It is necessary to understand the dichotomy between the opinions of Gulliver and Swift for a critical reading of fourth voyage. A reader needs to disassociate or alienate the perceptions and opinions of Gulliver’s as his own and not necessarily of the author Swift. By the time Gulliver reaches the end of his journey and before being saved by the captain of the Portuguese ship named Pedro de Mendez, his character undergoes several tones of change and in the end, the readers see him as an obnoxious misanthrope, an object of ridicule. Again, to identify and accept the intelligence of the Houyhnhnms (the horses) and the conceited and deceitful attitude of the Yahoos (the humans) does not necessarily imply Swift’s loss of faith in humanity.
Gulliver comes across as a gullible character that remains blinded to the downside of Houyhnhnms rational philosophy and solely praises the intelligence and humor of the equine species. The part four needs to be understood not only as an interaction between the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos, implying the nature of relationships between horses and humans, albeit in a humoristic and satirical manner but the voyage needs to be analyzed as a confrontation between Gulliver and Swift.
For a supposedly master race, the Houyhnhnms come across as an arrogant and unenlightened population. They “have not the least idea of books or literature” and neither do they have any knowledge of countries existing beyond them. They do not favour acquiring knowledge that does not have any concrete use and neither do they understand the capability of humans to cause mischief because they lack claws like the Yahoos and sharp teeth to bite each other. Here, Swift tends to over emphasize the rational ability of the Houyhnhnms; they lack emotions and imagination and for an imaginative writer like Swift who is also the creator of...

Find Another Essay On Gullivers Travels: A Severe Indictment on Human Nature Through Satire

A Comparison of Satire in Voltaire's Candide and Gulliver's Travels

2248 words - 9 pages A Comparison of the Satire of Candide and Gulliver's Travels An impartial observer has the ability to make the most critical and objective observation on society and the behavior of man. This impartial observer would see the truth as it is. This same premise may be applied to literary works. A naive character or narrator may be used as an impartial observer, who reveals social truths to the audience through his or her naivete. As Maurois

Gulliver's Travels by Swift as a Fine Example of Satire

1294 words - 5 pages Gulliver's Travels by Swift as a Fine Example of Satire Gulliver's Travels is a book which uses satire, to attack the politics of its time. Swift operates on two levels; on one level he tells an enjoyable fantasy story for all ages. On the second level behind the superficial narrative he comments upon the issues he faces in the reality of England and makes criticisms. The story is set on an island called Lilliput, it

A Human For Nature

1611 words - 6 pages A Human For Nature When looking at the issue of humans and nature throughout history, one significant figure stands out in my mind: Theodore Roosevelt. Without him, the most beautiful and serene places in North America may have been destroyed or fallen to the hands of developers. Development and conservation of land have been issues that we have faced since Europeans first landed in America. Today, environmental issues are a concern that any

Gulliver's Time Travels: A Romp Through European History

1586 words - 6 pages government. Swift uses Intellectual satire to show that not all technology is beneficial or necessary. A fourth example of satire is economic satire. Swift uses many aspects of Gulliver’s Travels to satirize man’s greed. For example, Gulliver had to drop out of school at an early age due to financial reasons (Swift 1). He also goes on his many trips to get money to support his family. When Gulliver is ready to depart from Lilliput, he

Different Viewpoints on Human Nature

739 words - 3 pages Different Viewpoints on Human Nature Throughout history there have been arguments about anything and everything that is disagreeable. People innately have there own and often different opinions. A prominent discussion topic throughout history has been the nature of mankind. Many have written works about human nature but few are discussed in greater detail than Candide, The Prince, and Essay on Man. Voltaire, Niccolo Machiavelli, and

Thrasymachus' Perspective on Human Nature

1340 words - 5 pages Thrasymachus' Perspective on Human Nature Thrasymachus' perspective of human nature is that we all seek to maximize power, profit and possessions. He gives the argument that morality is not an objective truth but rather a creation of the stronger (ruling) party to serve its own advantage. Therefore definitions of "just" and "unjust", "right" and "wrong", "moral" and "immoral" are all dependent upon the decree of the ruling party

On Evil and Human Nature

858 words - 3 pages When prompted about the true nature of the human race, a great majority assumes “survival” instead of “good”. What this assumption leads to is a study of weather the human race is in fact “good” as people would like to think. In fact the one think that has allowed our race to survive is praying on the weaker, so are we morally “evil” by allowing our nature to dominate over us? If so is this nature a true evil? Many philosophers have studies

Gullivers Travels: A Voyage to Laputa

718 words - 3 pages The Laputans can be effectively characterized as a group of absentminded intellectuals who live on the floating island of Laputa. Gulliver encounters these people in his third voyage. The Laputans are parodies of theoreticians, who have scant regard for any practical results of their own research, they are so absorbed in their own thoughts that they must be shaken out of their meditations by flappers. These servants walk around with Laputans all

A View into Human Nature

1904 words - 8 pages either come out stronger and wiser or lose themselves in the process of surviving. Through the use of isolation, insight into human nature is shown in characters, how harsh living conditions can lead to a loss of hope and a change in one’s mental state, causing humanity to be forgotten and innocence to be stripped and never returned. Once stranded on an island, action to organize must be taken and a leader must be chosen to work towards the goal of

A Scarlet Child’s Human Nature

942 words - 4 pages kindness, while Pearl is not affected by religion or society and lingers on with her true nature and its benefits. Which brings the reader to Hawthorne’s next step: showing the reader how society rips away a child’s innocence. Hawthorne presents the reader with situations where the Puritan children say and do mean and impolite things toward Hester and Pearl. Hawthorne’s first example is presented in chapter seven as he writes, “Be hold, verily

Essay on Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider): Finding a Rational God through Nature

3515 words - 14 pages surrounding him rather than looking towards man-made religions. Pantheism seems to be a combination of nature and religion because through nature, man is able to relieve himself of the stress of everyday life. As previously discussed, religion is supposed to have the same effect on man but often does not. Pantheism helps to “pacify the great anguish of human kind” (Cruickshank 323) and gives an individual satisfaction in his earthly existence

Similar Essays

Human Nature And Society Presented Through Huckleberry Finn

888 words - 4 pages Human Nature and Society presented through Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain opposed many of the ideologies of his time. Through his novel Huckleberry Finn, he explored human nature and the society. He made apparent his dislike for them. The book focus’s on the general treatment of black people during this time. Specifically, the author criticizes morality, slavery and racism. The characters encountered in Huckleberry Finn do not have very high

An Interpretation Of The City: The Theme Of Human Impact On Nature Metaphorically Represented Through The Interperatation Of The City.

522 words - 2 pages The concept of the city and human's impact on nature has been revealed through the two texts "Big Yellow Taxi"--lyrics of a song performed by the band The Counting Crows, and the cartoon "Truth and Beauty Left Lane" by Michael Leunig. The two texts both reveal similar themes about a particular interpretation of the city. Each text deals with the concept of the city in a variety of ways but the overall message of both texts is quite similar. This

Report On Gullivers Travels, Part 3

1376 words - 6 pages , home of the immortal struldbruggs; and finally Japan, where he finally is able to find a way back home to England. In this paper, I will briefly describe the setting, J summarize the plot, describe the characters, and comment on the satire in each place Gulliver visits in Part III. As in the other parts of Gulliver's Travels. Gulliver describes in realistic detail how he ends up in a very unrealistic part of the world. The ship Hope-well, on

Robert Louis Stevenson's Insight Into Human Nature Through "Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde"

1163 words - 5 pages was not practicing law, nor was he earning much from his writing, having published less than ten essays in 1876. He was financially dependent on his parents, who were shocked to learn that he was courting a married woman.” (Aronson 2) Stevenson was showing love, but at the same time he was committing an act of evil. After difficult circumstances and chasing his love half way around the world, Stevenson married the woman and came back to his home in