The Ideals Of Jonathan Swift Essay Research

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The Ideals Of Jonathan Swift Essay, Research Paper The Ideals of Jonathan Swift The tale of Gulliver?s Travels can be described as a written criticism of the society in which Swift lived. In each of the worlds Gulliver encountered the problems he saw with the civilizations were actually the political and social aspects Jonathan Swift disliked about his own world. He also accomplishes this by giving the inhabitants of these worlds superior traits and attitudes in order to compare them to and belittle the culture that surrounded Swift. An example of this could be the intellectual and proper race of houyhnhnms. One of the most interesting questions about Gulliver?s Travels is whether the Houyhnhnms represent his ideal of rationality or whether they are also part of Swift’s

satire. In Book IV, is Swift poking fun at the talking horses or does he intend for us to take them seriously. If we look closely at the way that the Houyhnhnms act, we can see that in fact Swift does not take them seriously: he uses them to show the dangers of pride. First we have to see that Swift does not even take Gulliver seriously. For instance, his name sounds much like gullible, which suggests that he will believe anything indicating that his perceptions of what is good and bad may not be accurate making the teller of the story bias. Also, when he first sees the Yahoos and they throw excrement on him, he responds by doing the same in return until they run away. Even though as a human he is suppose to be the most rational being there is, according to our beliefs. This here

is a perfect example of the way Swift shows the weakness of the human race and how we can easily be influenced to behave immaturely and uncivilized even though we see ourselves as the height of the living world. Lemule Gulliver is clearly satirized as a human, but does that make the Houyhnhnms Swifts ideal society? They walk on two legs instead of four, and seem to be much like people. As Gulliver says, “It was with the utmost astonishment that I witnessed these creatures playing the flute and dancing a Viennese waltz. To my mind, they seemed like the greatest humans ever seen in court, even more dexterous than the Lord Edmund Burke” As this quote demonstrates, Gulliver is terribly impressed, but his admiration for the Houyhnhnms is short-lived because of their intense pride.

For instance, the leader of the Houyhnhnms claims that he has read all the works of Charles Dickens, and that he can single handily recite the names of all the Kings and Queens of England up to George II. Swift subtly shows that this Houyhnhnms pride is misplaced when, in the middle of the intellectual competition, he forgets the name of Queen Elizabeth?s husband. If he intended for the Houyhnhnms to be the medium in which his satire was to be based he would not show them to be capable of error. Swifts satire of the Houyhnhnms comes out in other ways as well. One of the most memorable scenes is when the mare attempts to woo the horse. First she acts flirtatiously, parading around the bewildered horse. But when this does not have the desired effect, she gets another idea: “As I

watched in amazement from my perch in the top of a tree, the sorrel nag dashed off and returned with a yahoo on her back who was yet more monstrous than Mr. Pope being fitted by a clothier. She dropped this creature before my nag as if offering up a sacrifice. My horse sniffed the creature and turned away.” It might seem that we should take this scene seriously as a failed attempt at courtship, and that consequently we should see the gray mares attempt as just a failure. But it makes more sense if we see that Swift is being satiric here: it is the female Houyhnhnm who makes the move, which would not have happened in eighteenth-century England. Is this Swifts way of expressing his views on women?s liberation by making their society out to be more equal and therefore more