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In Jonathan Swift's story "Gulliver's Travels", part iv, "A voyage to the country of the Houyhnhnms," we are capable of seeing issues and concepts in regards to relations, ethics and morality which come into play both in our society and in "Gulliver's Travel". These are the very issues that man holds dear and we realize that Jonathan Swift strongly justifies and attacks his literary aggression through building up a society of Houyhnahnms who truly advocates for a just and humane society that we as human beings (Yahoos) have the faintest perception of. In the story we also find that Swift deals with human ignorance and the overall belief that nothing on earth can be more civilized that man. Swift also uses characters of the Houyhnahnms in demonstration of human inadequacies and overall failures to exert and practice true reason.
In "Gulliver's Travels" issues like rape, corruption, war, lying, homosexuality, greed, slavery, bribery, and murder does not exist in a community that comprehends the true meaning of reason. The metamorphosis of Gulliver is very clear from him departing away from his wife and children to being mutinied to his initial encounter with the Yahoos as well as the Houyhnahnms, to his five year experience interacting with the Houyhnahnms and back to his return home and change from a man (yahoo) to a Houyhnahnms (in spirit). Therefore as we take a look at the "Gulliver's Travels", it is clear that the Voyage of the Houyhnhnm concerns comprehension, clarity of oneself, transformation, beliefs, ethics and values (Clive, 1975).
From the onset when he leaves his family to begin the voyage, Gulliver does not have any idea of dealing with difficult issues and challenges that confronted him and evil of human kind as his crew locks in his cabin and take over his ship. The chief role of the captain is to "turn pirates and plunder the Spaniards" (P192). In the above case, we realize that it is the desire of man to do unjust things and such actions do not lie within the perception of a species that actually recognize reason. The above ideology is very common in the present society that we live in and man is always caught doing unjust things.
After being dropped off by his crews, his first encounter is with the prospect of being capable of surviving in the island. Following his experience with a group of yahoos in the jungle, he therefore become perplexed since has never seen such animals. And as he ventures further, he makes a discovery of creatures that will forever change his way of life. Generally, there are sorts of ignorance that is brought about between Gulliver and his master concerning the degree and the abilities of all creatures of the world. Gulliver also describes to his master the art of war by providing the reason why war starts but his master however asks how this is true due to frailness of the human body (Clive, 1975). Then Gulliver corrects his master's immature conclusion by explaining the kinds of weaponry used in winning battles and he says "I could not forbear shaking my head and a smile a little at his ignorance" (P 214). The ignorance is justified by the fact that Houyhnahnms have no concept of war. They only view this new stranger as a kind of advanced yahoo and fortifies their stance by saying that his master comprehends the nature of yahoo (humans in relation to yahoos) (Clive, 1975). This only made the view of humans even worse that that of yahoos in which Houyhnahnms interacted with on daily basis.
Over the course of the first month, Gulliver explains the other aspect of the society like the system of law and constitution which his master is really keen to listen to. He goes further to explain the details of the excellent constitution that England lives under and the role of the Chief Master of State is interaction with others even though they never tell the truth. He explains that for one gain such titles, he must be able and be skilled in lying and bribery. As the story continues, we find out that Gulliver begins to change in terms of how he views himself and the humanity. This first came when he started to realize how similar the yahoo race is to the human race in the isolated island. In the story we also realize that there is some sort of fight within Gulliver as to the true abilities of yahoos of the distant land that he tries to interact with yahoo in order to establish whether they resemble human kind.
After five years have passed, Gulliver is on the island and living in the company of Houyhnahnms, he thus becomes transformed in his thinking and the overall way of viewing life. Generally, what is Gulliver's Travels about? I think it is all about finding the true meaning of life and accepting both good and evil. Simply put, when we look at all things around us or the society at large and asking ourselves whether whatever we see truly exemplifies impartiality and purity. Secondly, by looking at the society and seeing if we practice utterly the virtues of benevolence and friendship? Thirdly, if we truly understand and practice reason in all forms, and finally, if we truly do understand reason and practiced it we would not conspire to steal or grab land from our neighbors or overpower the weak (Clive, 1975).
The actions such as war, rape, greed, homosexuality, theft, bribery and all other forms of evil are not the ways that species can practice and truly understand what reason is and how it relates to our human race. We as humans must truly understand and practice just, moral, ethics, and this is clearly seen in our modern day society. I do concur with Swift that in writing Gulliver's Travels, he has every right to make attacks on corruption of 18th century English society since it is clear that most writers of our modern day society make the same attacks on the society today. He also makes it clear that actions such as racism, humanism, and morality need to be addresses and dealt with appropriately so that everyone can lead a better life.
Generally, when it comes to modern day society, we see poets like Mia Angelo making a similar type of attacks on the society with regards to the days of isolation and slavery in the south. Clearly, there is a link in the way writers and poets of the past like Swift see society in relations to writers and poets of today. In that context, Swift gives the readers the need to see society for what it is and appreciate how we interrelate with it and how much of an effect that it can have on us as individual. In Gulliver's journeys there was an absolute changing of a man from his initial voyage to the end where he came to meet with his family (Clive, 1975).
The kind of life that Gulliver goes through in the island such as the coldness and lack of emotion clearly gives us a picture of how we can change after going through sheer acts of greed, betrayal and corruption as a result of coming to terms with who we are as humans (yahoos) really are. All the madness we are introduced to characters like Captain Mendez and the virtues that he exemplifies (Clive, 1975). We ought to ask ourselves, does this man symbolize a hope; a symbol of hope or light in the darkness of this world? The answer is yes because Houyhnhnm characterizes the Martin Luther Kings, and John F. Kennedy or our society's past and present. This is the representation of people in the face of adversity who tried to make peace and bring society and the world together as a whole. Men who were present in times of great chaos in society and demonstrated something helpful in today's society. In my opinion, I think people should all aspire to grow and truly understand virtues as well as reason like Gulliver did and that will make our society to be a better place.
The Houyhnhnms epitomize an ideal that human beings should aspire; to call attention to the monotony of their lives or the failure of their inquisitiveness only to relieve the reader's participation in human depravity." (P241) In relation to today's society, there is something that we need to learn; that it is very important for all people to develop a certain mentality concerning what we think as humans and our general mindsets. This should be applied specifically to our moral values as human beings.
I think that the ideals and images that are depicted by the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos are clearly exemplified in today's modern society. This is a clear mind-set which differentiates the just from the unjust. We must therefore recognize that our attitudes are not a state of mind but a sign of our values. I do not see the Houyhnhnms as bad species but rather as a message to all those who are living in the present society in relation to thinking and the ways we realize certain success in life. There is a certain mindset that must be put in place in order to accomplish anything in life no matter what the odds. We can either grow or learn or even become the Houyhnhnm and practice virtues such as helping thy neighbor or lead the life of the Yahoo. According to me, Swift informs us concerning the harsh realities of life and makes us aware that we have roles that we must play in society and those roles are to make society a better place. Gulliver's Travels also bring into question the manner in which we reason and go about problems of better society (Clive, 1975).
The story makes me look at myself and bring my own morality to the table to argue and scrutinize because it is very crucial if we want to grow, understand ourselves and life as a whole. This is supported by famous saying that in order not to continue with similar mistakes of the past we must know our history. I thus agree that Swift does an excellent job in making us come to terms with our past and makes us learn how it can affect our future lives. Through him I see reality for what it is but also gets motivated to either make the world a better place. Through his writings he gives us a choice that I feel is fundamental and has the abilities to discern his readers from good and evil, the just and unfair.
Generally, Jonathan Swift's story of "Gulliver's Travels" exemplifies a true literary work of genius that gives us a true description of the modern society and how individuals interact with one another. It talks of - "corrupt lawyers, politicians, rapacious doctors, mass slaughters in wars over trivial pretexts-aspects of our experience as well as of Gulliver's and remind us that this narrative links the reader in the moral problem of judging and changing the society. Al in all, Gulliver's Travels" educates us and tells us a lot about society and how we to gain better understanding of ourselves as well as society at large.