What Makes One Human And What Makes One Animal?

1650 words - 7 pages

Gulliver’s Travels exposes the interdependency between both human and animalistic behaviors. In these travels, the word “human” does not necessarily belong to a certain species, but is rather a characteristic of reason based on the social norms of a particular society. It also claims that animals lack reason and therefore are subdued by those with reason. Since Gulliver finds that humans are the only animals capable of reason, he sees humanity in the Houyhnhnms, who are completely governed by reason, "as these noble Houyhnhnms are endowed by Nature with a general disposition to all virtues, and have no conceptions or ideas of what is evil in a rational creature, so their grand maxim is, to cultivate Reason, and to be wholly governed by it," ( Jonathan Swift 315). Through the Houyhnhnms, Swift envisions a humanity that is free of strife and hardship; the universal use of reason is the vehicle through which this can be achieved. Furthermore, although horses are animals, they are also intrinsically human—a variation of humans. Gulliver also accounts for similar stories in his venturingventures to the lands of the Lilliputians and Brobdingnagians. As alluded to , travelers are often met with condescending attitudes when encountered by a particular society. The traveler becomes domesticated and is treated like an animal. Such is the case for Gulliver in his contact with various civilizations.
Gulliver’s first traveltrip, to Lilliput, gives him the animal characteristics by means of manipulation. He shows no apparent rationale to think and act without the strong inclination of others. He becomes the Lilliputians’ ultimate weapon during warfare, subordinate to their very commands. One can liken this dynamic to his English mates using horses in battle. Gulliver proves to be a useful tool in battle, “I arrived at the fleet in less than half an hour. The enemy was so frightened when they saw me, they leaped out of their ships” (Swift 50). Gulliver facilities the attack of on the Blefuscians, showing his animalistic inclinations in the processs . In other instances, Gulliver behaves like an animal outside of the war zone, especially in his social interactions with the Lilliputians. He defecates in public gatherings, leaving his fecal matter to be disposed of by the Lilliputians (Humans). This shows their human civility by illustrating their tendency to attend to the needs of something animals (such as Gulliver, in this case) cannot. Like an animal, Gulliver is treated as an inferior species; his uncivilized inclination to urinate on the Queen’s chambers causes him to face charges of being executed execution at the hands of the Lilliputians, “the heat I had contracted by coming very near the flames, and by my labouring to quench them, made the wine begin to operate by urine; …. In three minutes the fire was wholly extinguished, and the rest of that noble pile, which had cost so many ages in erecting, preserved from destruction” ( Swift 92)....

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