Gulliver: An Odious Yahoo

Gulliver created a reputation for himself as a man who enlightens, yet never truly had the power to make a significant change in the country of Lilliput and in the country of Brobdingnag. Instead, he himself had been enlightened in the country of Houyhnhms. He walked out of that place with completely changed view on the way his specie lived. Chapter seven was when his Master expressed his observations upon human nature to which Gulliver decided he wanted to live among the Houyhnhms for the rest of his life. This was what he said his Master told him, “He said the Yahoos were known to hate one another more than they did any different Species of Animals; and the Reason usually assigned, was, the Odiousness of their own Shapes, which all could see in the rest, but not in themselves” (239). He viewed himself as the heroic man who put out the fire in Lilliput and the perfect companion to the farmer’s Daughter who made clothes for him to wear. He was like the star wherever he went. He didn’t have time to analyze himself and when his Master pointed out the Yahoos’ flaws, he couldn’t even defend his own specie because he believed they were true.

The word odious means unpleasant, which his Master used to describe the Yahoos showing his Master’s view on their physical features. Gulliver had, in his earlier travels, demonstrated his belief that his people were advanced and above all. This belief is quickly shut down when his Master explained how far behind the Yahoos were from the evolutionary perspective. Gulliver used the word odious to describe his  impression on the Yahoos he observed on page 244 and discovered these creatures were a lot like him. He then used the word odious to describe a young “Vermin”, or animal that can be harmful to crops, farm animals, etc. He described this animal as unpleasant while his Master had previously used the same word to describe Yahoos. The connection here is clear and showed that Yahoos were despicable to the rest of society. He used the word again after his return home. He called his own wife an “odious animal” (265) when all she did was show a little affection.

He truly had been enlightened and could only see his people through the eyes of the Houyhnhms; although, Gulliver’s Travels does not necessarily suggest that human kind would be happier if it could think and behave the way the Houyhnhms do. The Lilliputians were perfectly prospering in the way they ran their society. The same goes for the Brobdingnagnian, and the Houyhnhms. Everything were circumstantial. The odds of him to conform to the rest was high because this time he was the one being enlightened as opposed to him, one man, trying to enlighten an entire country. Had he not arrived in the country of Houyhnhms, he would still view his life the same as before. Gulliver was happy in this new way of living in this new country, but imagine him trying to change the view of his entire people; they would disagree. As his Master said, “which all could see in the rest, but not in themselves”, this could apply to anyone meaning that everyone has a specific constitution where they live by and view others as unestablished and savage.

-Van Vang

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One thought on “Gulliver: An Odious Yahoo

  1. The main idea is, “Gulliver created a reputation for himself as a man who enlightens, yet never truly had the power to make a significant change in the country of Lilliput and in the country of Brobdingnag. Instead, he himself had been enlightened in the country of Houyhnhnms.” You make a great argument and provide exceptional supporting evidence. I see no need to add detail.

    Extra Credit 22/25/4

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