Creature and the Human

Let’s skip over to the last part of Gulliver’s last travel to the Houyhnhnms island. In part four, chapter twelve of Gulliver’s Travels, before Gulliver returns to England; he clearly expresses, that he is pretty upset to be leaving the Houyhnhnms island; he expresses resentment to the fact that he has to go back to “the sight of human creatures” (380). After spending time with the Houyhnhnms, his perception of humans changes drastically solely on his interactions and observations of the Houyhnhnms lifestyle. This passage reflects and interesting irony within our perspective and definition of “creatures.” It is challenged as Gulliver explores and studies the Yahoos and Houyhnhnms way of living. More importantly, he studies in depth the Houyhnhnm society and even lives with them for a few years before some of the Houyhnhnms begin to grow weary of his presence, as Gulliver’s appearance resemblance to that of the Yahoos. What is interesting is that Gulliver, begins to fit into this category of the creature because he stands out from this society that is very different but very intelligent; who live in perfect harmony unlike the humans and the Yahoos. Gulliver, upon landing on this strange island undergoes a transition that begins to define his etiquette, the more we delve into the story the more we see a sort of what I like to call a switch swap-pity position; Gulliver is less humane than the Houyhnhnms because of his cultural background, his social etiquette is less humane than those of the Houyhnhnms; and we know this because we see how they both teach and learn about each other’s social standards. This is where we begin to notice the switch swap-pity occur when Gulliver realize how great their society is structured and begins to adapt to a system that was not even created by humans but by people would consider “creatures.” We see the dehumanization of Gulliver through this adventure; Swift goes as far to dehumanize Gulliver by having a Houyhnhnm “master” and having him kiss the master Houyhnhnm hoof “I was going to prostrate myself to kiss his hoof, he did me the honour to raise it gently to my mouth” (362). Therefore, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels does suggest that humankind would be happier if it could think and behave the way the Houyhnhnms do because even Gulliver can not stand the thought of leaving this society; where he roams happily in their society but is rejected and feared for being different.

Enrique Ramos

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