Gulliver’s Travels is the magnum opus of satire in English literature, combining humorous wits and profound allegories by swelling, absurd, ludicrous scenarios to concretely present, through the use of the irony, the corruption of frictional politics accompanied by depraved humanity. Of the four books comprising this work, by far the most controversial satire of the contemporary Augustan-imitating piece has been the last: “A Voyage to the Houyhnhnms.”
In Book Four, the narrator, Gulliver, is deposited by mutineers on an island co-existed by two totally irreconcilable spices: Some are the Yahoos, being bestial nature, ravaged by rampant problems, such as cupidity, lust and vulgarity, made to be menial labors by the others – the Houyhnhnms. In stark contrast to the former, the latter are extremely rational, constituting a utopian paradise free from the problems plaguing man. When at first facing the humanlike animals as the Yahoos, Gulliver is stunned by such disagreeable and despicable animals, discharging their odious excrements on his head, while the ideal creatures, the Houynhnms, are not only orderly but judicious, having particularly inoffensive dung and living clean. The author, Swift, employs the drastic discrepancies toward the sanitation and civilization to unveil the prologue of the ironic travel.
On Gulliver’s point of view, the Houynhnms are purely perfect beings, full of ration, dedicating their lives to reason and truth. So that he despises the opposite, the Yahoos, inclusive of all human beings, and even abhors his reflection from the water. Fascinated with the inviolable incarnations, he is apt to fall into the voice and manners of them, walking swiftly like a horse. During the three years inhabitation with them, he deeply realizes the superiority of the Houynhnms and the inferiority of the Yahoos, which are regarded the same strain as humans by Gulliver. For example, the Houyhnhnms are so honest that they even don’t know the notion of evil and deceit; however, the Yahoos are cunning, malicious, treacherous and revengeful, like every guilty commitment denied neither high nor low classes in Europe. As rational creatures, they are unfeeling about the death or departure; cautiously choosing the spouses not through romantic love but through the color of the strong males and comely females to shun the disagreeable mixtures. Still, the breeding of the colts follows strict regulation, bestowing a colt to those who lack one to prevent over abundance of population. Being fully content with staying with those sacred, he endeavors to ascend himself to the level of them, forced to expel due to the resemblance of the Yahoos. Struck with grief and agony, finally he is saved by Captain Mendez, despite his preferring to pass his life alone rather than rejoin to the society occupied by his race -- the Yahoos. Paradoxically, if the Houynhnms possess high rational thought, why do they fail to see the differences between Gulliver and the filthy Yahoos? Likewise, if Gulliver doesn’t niggle over his absolute ration, his insight of everything agreeable in humanity will not lose.
When Gulliver yields admiration toward the Houyhnhnms and pays abhorrence for the beastly Yahoos. Does he really achieve the culminating balance of reason? That the Houyhnhnms treat all stuff absolutely rational seems to be excessive paranoiac: Their marital purpose is only to “Produce” eugenic generations, which achieves their rational necessity; however, the significance of marriage comprises the lovers to give birth to the children developing their individual characters; though the differences and imperfection may exist in every family, the fundamental elements of parents’ affection and care are irreplaceable. The regulation of children of the Houynhnms ostensibly appears flawless, but they may raise their progenies without sensibility and creation like iron-hearted robots. Swift employs the view of Gulliver as a bloody device to dissect the extremeness of ration, which leads only to contortion and abnormity; therefore, the so-called supreme ration of the Houyhnhnms is ironic embodiments of the Augustans sneered at by Swift. By his accurately devising strategy, we readers are not to contempt the Yahoos as Gulliver does. After all, it is the evil projection that roots in the sub-consciousness of everyone, and so is the benevolence. Moreover, Swift exerts the plain depiction to recount Gulliver’s inflexible persistence of punctilious reason and claims which doesn’t mean to equate with ideal and perfection. Through the aesthetic distance, we will not conceive antipathy on Gulliver’s reactions but have sympathy for him, suffering from all kinds of tortures like staying with horses in great amity, being intolerable toward the human bodily odors…and the like.
The work is not comical, but poignant. Gulliver, once so self-assured and proud of his species, has undergone a tragic disillusionment. Swift leaves subtle clues like Gulliver’s illogical misanthropy in the end to indicate one must see the latent virtues existing in the bottom of the mind, and he also holds up the mirror of satire to show his fellow “Yahoos” what they really are and to give us a glimmer of hope to step for higher ambit of our mind.
writed by Medea