The first cartoon is a critique on the true intentions of the abolitionist. The cartoon depicts the abolitionist as deceptive Quakers wit economic interests in East India Sugar. There is also a Irish man being ignored at the bottom of the cartoon. There is also a depiction of Africa and free Africans dancing. The author is trying to convey to the reader they should be more concerned about the corruption and injustices in their own country before focusing on something they aren’t even getting accurate information. The second cartoon draws on this same principle. I don’t believe that the artist of the cartoon is making an argument for or against slavery but an argument on where the interests of Englishmen should be. Due to all the troubles in England, such as hunger and corruption, the author does not feel like the public should be concerned with slavery. It also continues the narrative of the happy slave by depicting Africans with full bellies and dancing. In both cartoons the Africans don’t appear to have any attachment to slavery.  There are no white men, no shackles, and no sign that they are anything but happy. The artist possibly did this in order to convey that the real slaves are a different group of people.  

Equiano’s narrative, though polarizing at times, embodies what the cartoon says in a way. He states:  “tortures, murder, and every other imaginable barbarity and iniquity are practiced upon the poor slaves with impunity. I hope the slave-trade will be abolished. I pray it may be an event at hand. The great body of manufacturers, uniting in the cause, will considerably facilitate and expedite it; and, as I have already stated, it is most substantially their interest and advantage, and as such the nation’s at large…”. He acknowledges how terrible the slaves were treated but then goes on to say how he thinks slavery will only grow due to its economic benefits. Just like the cartoon, Equiano is in a way accepting slavery because it’s too tempting of an endeavor. Equiano also chooses to add “the nations at large” to his explanation. By doing this he is giving another explanation as to why slavery will not be abolished. There is a whole nation at stake! By using this utilitarian argument to explain slavery we can see why cartoons like the examples given were so focused on the economics of slavery and not the humanity.      



-Maya Gonzales



Travel Points for Gulliver

Yahoos is a word that is constantly being repeated and I noticed that there is a personal beef with the Yahoos in how the Houyhnhnms look down on them. There is a very bold elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. The Houyhnhnms are looking at the Yahoos as literal fecal matter and it becomes closely related to the genocide ideology we have seen with the Nazis. This repetition allows for us to keep consistently thinking on what the outcome of the Yahoos is going to be. The irony is that they are horses and usually horses are ridden and owned and tamed by their masters in real life. When Gulliver seems to go crazy after trying to talk to his horses, it really questions as to how far the imagination of someone can go from envisioning fiction and trying to bring it into real life.

Master seems to be a word that sounds out of place. It makes me uncomfortable in the sense that someone is praising a horse and is ok with someone being second-class. I guess I can relate an example to how we look at celebrities and envision everything they do to be perfect so we place them on a pedestal. We think everything a celebrity does is godly and would not mind being their doormat to be walked on everyday. There is a funny meme that says someone could get slapped by Beyoncé 20 times and say thank you every time. So it seems ok ideally that Gulliver would idolize these horses since they seem to have much more down in their ideal Utopia and don’t have any problems. Gulliver unfortunately is too clouded to see that they are not the best people to be inspired by.

Subtly, I see that Swift makes it aware through the satire to us that it is not ok for this superiority mindset. While Gulliver is awed in all the glory the Houynhmnms seem to present, it is to be shown to the reader that exterminating someone for their own good is not morally ok and presents a sense of disguist in how people “horses” can be perfectly comfortable with this decision in the sense that they are doing the world a favor. I would like to know in more detail or as a footnote or attachment why Gulliver was so fascinated by Houynhmnms in an explanation from Swift. I also would like to know what drove Gulliver to look like a lunatic once he started speaking to horses. To the average reader who cannot see the bigger message Swift blends in the satirical-style writing, it may bring forth the intent of the writing in a way that people can see thing that are not ok in a form of bullet points.



-Daniel Estrada

They really aren’t that great

Although the Houyhnhnm appear to be rational creatures, I don’t think the world would be better places if it could think and behave the way Houyhnhms do because it is to similar to the way in which humans have taught and behaved in the past. For instance, when Gulliver was learning the language of the Houyhnhnms he was treated as piece to look at because many were “convinced that [he] must be a Yahoo, but [his] teachableness, civility, and cleanliness astonished him; which were qualities altogether opposite to those animals”. The dichotomy between Houyhnhnm and Yahoo is similar to the hierarchal structure of races. The Houyhnhms believe themselves to be better beings than the Yahoos because the Yahoo’s way of living does not coincide with the Houyhnhnms way of life. Also, Gulliver was to refer the Houyhnhnm who take care of him as “master”, which thus created a master and slave relationship between the two. No matter how much Gulliver were to learn the language and communicate with the Houyhnhnm efficiently, Gulliver was still going to be viewed less than due to the fact that he is to call his teacher, “master”. He would never be seen as an intellectual equal of any sort, always as a less than outsider. At times, it seemed that Gulliver was less than the slaves because the slaves would find him so intriguing as well and enjoyed teaching him the things he did not know.

Nancy Sanchez

I Hate Having Feelings as Much As the Next Person but This Is Drastic

We live in a world that obliquely places objectivity and subjectivity at odds, and privileges one over the other. A researcher is considered more fair if he is “unbiased,” and a news outlet is considered more trustworthy if they have no traceable emotive agenda. But there’s two problems with that: firstly, true objectivity is formally impossible. No-one with real working human feelings can ever look at an object or idea without some sort of emotional tint. We all have lenses that inform how we see the world. For example, if you simply say the word “red” in a group of people, they will all inevitably see different things. I imagine a big block of scarlet, and then I go on to think about a song from the musical Matilda where the titular character explores this very concept. Someone else might see an amorphous blob of burgundy, and then go on to think about all the people they associate with that color. Yet another might think of a stripe of carmine, and think to themselves about the hex code for their favorite shade of red. That is subjectivity. It’s a gut reaction to recontextualize the knowledge you receive based on your life experiences and the way your thought process is constructed. It is humanly impossible to avoid. Second, objectivity is not inherently better than subjectivity. The privileging of objectivity in the forced binary opposition is so arbitrary! Why do we inherently value the idea of steril, cool consideration over a thought process affected by passion? Don’t we want the people conducting research to be passionate? A white person studying racial disparities in the housing market approaching the study “objectively” is simply going to miss things that a more “subjective” person of color might; similarly, a person of color “objectively” studying white people’s perception of their own race’s societally constructed image might miss certain nuances than a more “subjective” white dude.

The Houyhnhms’ solution for that first problem is to simply live an existence without emotion–a perfect utopia devoid of passion, excitement, short tempers, fury. And, not to be a bleeding heart, but that is absolutely no way to live. Certainly, it creates a world without conflict–there is no conflict without feeling. The Trojans went to war over Helen, and it was a long and arduous war that lasted because of feelings: Paris’ passion for Helen, the Trojan’s unconquerable pride. So certainly, emotions breed endless conflict. But they also breed empathy and goodwill. To have no feelings is to know no sympathy and to have no understanding to another’s plight. To have no feelings is to never recognize oppression. No feelings, no ambition. No feelings, no tenderness. No sensitivity to others. No joy and pride in others’ achievements. No passion to achieve in the first place. The capacity for good that comes from human (Yahoo) feelings is forsaken for the unbiased objectivity of the Houyhnhm society.

Similarly, Enlightened scholars sought a world without emotion, and sought philosophy without emotional affect. But, in the same way that subjectivity can lead to a level of emotional involvement that narrows the view of an opinion, an endless drive for objectivity can create philosophies devoid of sensitivity and true empathy for your fellow man. A philosophy that counsels pure acceptance of one’s situation as wholly unchangeable is beyond cool for a rich, educated, straight white guy in the Age of Enlightenment. It’s not so cool for the African slave, who is better served by a philosophy encouraging civil resistance and ambition for a better life. A philosophy that counsels compliance with societal norms is super cool for someone who already is  the societal norm. It’s not so cool for a gay man, in an age where one’s sexuality is just beginning to be associated with one’s whole truth–he might be better served by a philosophy that counsels self-acceptance and swerving from the societal “lane” set out for him. Enlightened scholars in search of objectivity often missed the nuance that their privilege distanced them from, and in doing so, proved themselves not quite enlightened at all.


-TaNayiah Bryels
and, for everyone’s fun, my favorite band just released a track that has quite a lot to do with this concept

Censored Society

An interesting aspect of the land of the Houyhnhnms was how they were much rationalized beings. Gulliver’s three year observations of the great virtues Houyhnhnms is essential to understanding Swifts satirical literature. “I remember it was with extreme difficulty that I could bring my master to understand the meaning of the word opinion, or how a point could be disputable; because reason taught us to affirm or deny only where we are certain; and beyond our knowledge we cannot do either. So that controversies, wranglings, disputes, and positiveness, in false or dubious propositions, are evils unknown among the Houyhnhnms.” (Swift 4.8.9) The phrase “how a point can be disputable” is key to the Houyhnhnm’s moderate society. The devotion to reason prevents them from having opinions thus it doesn’t make sense to argue since they don’t have different opinions. This however, could ultimately be the biggest contradiction to Swifts satire. How could this be an ideal society if there is no different ways of thinking? I imagine them to be more like programmed robots rather than horses at this point. In addition, they believe that you should respect other Houyhnhnms ideas without trying to dominate with your own.  The Master Houyhnhnms doesn’t portray ambiguity of the society of the European world when Gulliver explains weapons and is not allowed to finish his descriptions.  The master Houyhnhnms concludes that humans don’t have reason or rationality at all. This irony that the prideful human beings were not rationalized seemed rather ridiculous along with the portrayal of superior horses. In fact the out of place word of positiveness being unknown to the Houyhnhnms appeared to contradict the idea of being rationalized. For example, if there is no such thing as positive how can negative exist? Swift portrayed the Houyhnhnm land as this wonderful rationalized place for Gulliver but how could he have loved it there if the horses were unfamiliar with positivity. If there is no highs and lows of life then life would not better. Emotions towards families and our beliefs is what makes the human society awesome. Giving away or trading offspring depicts the emotionless lifestyle of the Houyhnhnms and leaves me with a strong dislike of the society. Moreover, The theme from this text is to show how Houyhnhnms are model citizens by their appeal to reason, they don’t perform physical harm on others, and they don’t lie. However, two of the three circumstances would contradict against human nature. This results in an unrealistic world that humans could not obtain. Therefore, the idea of thinking and behaving the way the Houyhnhms do would not make human kind better but rather a stagnant lifeless society.

Dario Lomeli



Breaking the “Locke:” A New Criticism Approach

“So that all men may be held back from invading the rights of others and from harming one another, and so that the law of nature that aims at the peace and preservation of all mankind may be obeyed, the enforcement of that law of nature (in the state of nature) is in every man’s hands, so that everyone has a right to punish law-breakers as severely as is needed to hinder the violation of the law. For the law of nature, like every law concerning men in this world, would be futile if no-one had power to enforce it and thereby preserve the innocent and restrain offenders.  And in the state of nature if anyone may punish someone for something bad that he has done, then everyone may do so.” (Locke, 4)

John Locke – The Second Treatise Chapter Two: The State of Nature


In response to some very heated discussions this week, I would like to take a close reading (or New Criticism) approach and look at the text itself. For this blog post, I suggest we take a minute to do some close reading, and application of the above statement of John Locke’s to Mary Rowlandson’s narrative. To begin with, it is important to note that in this segment Locke refers only to men. While now we may take men in the universal to mean people (in which the other gender is implied) in this instance Locke is not talking mankind, but specifically the male sex. It is important to note this because Mary Rowlandson is (of course) a woman. Therefore, it already makes it difficult to apply Locke’s ideology to her situation as his philosophy was in all honesty, not intended for her.

If I may be so bold as to paraphrase Locke, his first sentence more or less implies: in order to avoid chaos and anarchy, there must be checks and balances. It is man’s “right” to “punish law-breakers.” That’s all fine and dandy, but what version of society are we talking about here? For instance, in Rowlandson’s account she certainly doesn’t think of her captors as having the “right” to “punish law-breakers.” Rowlandson doesn’t see herself, or her family as a “law-breaker” and yet, from a native perspective, they are.

Moving on, Locke goes on to explain that someone has to “enforce” these laws or else the innocent would perish. However, this begs the question who has the right to enforce? If people of different beliefs both think they are right and fighting for the preservation of innocence, then are they both right of enforcing laws? Are they both right in punishing “law-breakers?” Are they right for inspiring the “state of war?” Who truly causes the “state of war?”

Furthermore, this section closes with Locke stating, “And in the state of nature if anyone may punish someone for something bad that he has done, then everyone may do so.” This further complicates matters because this gives everyone the right to regulate each other. As shown above, this obviously causes problems in regards to perspective, inherent rights, and whether or not there is a universal truth. And if so, whose is it?

  • Elle Lammouchi

Pointing the Finger

It is perplexing to try to relate with Mary Rowlandson’s perspective. I do not want to discredit her struggles- but it becomes difficult to understand that as an adult woman, she is not entirely a victim. Since her husband had particularly close relations with the natives, I felt Mary should have been the first to know if there were certain issues on the verge of rising. Torn between the thought of a war or if she is to be seen as a slave, I will try my best to pry apart the two viewpoints.

Mary Rowlandson is in an interesting possible exclusion when being related to John Locke’s rhetoric. I am moved by John Locke’s viewpoint in the sense that I feel the world would be much better if everyone respected each other’s ideals and treated each other equally. Ideally, this would have allowed for everyone to be seen as equal. Where it becomes interesting however is that the Natives are not playing by the same rules as the newly  arrived Europeans. I do consider the hostage situation of Mary to be a type of slavery. Even though Mary is sewing and providing her services as a form of bartering, she is not doing so willingly. I do see Mary trying to survive day-by-day. There is a warlike view on how the natives keep fleeing and moving randomly as the English are on their tails throughout the reading. Mary does use her religion as a way to help herself feel safe, even with the multiple deaths of some of the immediate people in her life.

I found extremely interesting how her children were named Joesph and Mary. I related this to the original biblical story of Joesph and Mary. Mary is questioned about her faith with the lord and her trust is tested. So I felt that when her kids Joesph and Mary were taken from her, she lost her trust. Of course, they are reunited at the end, but it builds a lot of biblical connection throughout as she is a devoted Puritan. I feel that by Mary playing victim and developing sympathy from the readings however, it contributes to the genocide. The natives are not seen as human or worthy of the lands and therefore are not taken seriously.

As treaties start to get broken by the new generations of Puritans and migrants, more chaos ensues for the Natives. King Philip pointed out how his father helped when the Mayflower arrived, and then slowly but surely there was more and more conflict as the years passed. The conflicts were possible because many of the newer generations were not true and as close to their Puritan faith. Therefore, it could be the ideals John Locke wrote of were not able to be met because people did not take the word of the lord as seriously and became more focused on colonizing, expansion, and obtaining as much land as possible. The natives were therefore seen as barbaric which brought upon war, kidnappings, genocide, and chaos.


-Daniel Estrada

Rowlandson’s narrative tells it all.


I believe that the story confirms, contradicts, and complicates the history of intolerance and genocide.

Mary Rowlandson’s narrative gives a lens and perspective that complicates the morals attached to colonization -it creates a moral dilemma, if you will.  The imagery she presents in her writing, with the murder of one of her children, and the kidnapping of others, appeals to the emotions of the readers; whether the reader wants to or not, they will somehow sympathize with Rowlandson’s vexing experience.

At the same time, her description confirms the retaliation the natives released in their state of vigilant anger. While one may be in the position of sympathy, when reading her written work, it is the implicit understanding of that historical background, which lead up to that moment of retaliation, that one has to think about.  In Rowlandson’s experience, in comparison to the bigger picture of the American Holocaust -the systematic genocide of slavery, and violence, genocide- we can see that the numbers in the death toll do not compare.

In terms of contradiction, the story becomes so because of all of the above.  There is an internal conflict that goes on upon reading it.  We sympathize, we become angry, we are in the moment, while at the same time going back into the cruel history that led up to the crime.  We also have to be careful not to use our 21st century way of thinking when close reading this piece, but one can’t help but question any document written so long ago that one is not able to get answers to all the questions we have.  Why did she write this? Where was she when she wrote this? What effect did her gender role play on how she wrote it? What was she possibly forced to write in order to continue to the stereotype the natives were cast in? While we may not have the answers, one can conclude that she really believe that God was on her side, thus according to her, everything she saw and felt was correct.  More contradiction is when she refers to them as savages, even after the fact when they actually treated her well.

The lack of evidence, other than her words, creates a big gap.  And all we can do as a reader is look at it and attempt to put ourselves in that time period, and take from it our own individual understanding.

-Maricela Martinez

Consequences of War and Genocide

Mary Rowlandson’s narrative, in my opinion, in no way is justification for genocide or intolerance. I believe that the actions of the native americans can be seen as an act of war and defense and not as simply a malicious or savage-like situation. Mary Rowland and the people around and before her have started this trend of slurs, dehumanization, and genocide of native people wh0 had thrived long before the arrival of invasive people into their land. When colonizers arrived, they found that these native people were not living how English people knew how to live. Immediately the colonizers felt they needed to ‘teach’ and enlighten the natives and for some reason to do this they had to take their land. The front was weak and fake and the real reasons of exploiting land and resources were apparent to the natives as the invaders continually murdered them. Native Americans were not simply going to sit there and let their land, food and people taken from them, they fought back like anyone would in a war.

Throughout History situations like this have not been uncommon. We just discussed last week how central America was colonized and how the spaniards took advantage of the native people. The Aztec Empire had its resources stolen and people killed. The Spanish claimed they were there for exploration and for the betterment of the ‘savages’ but they knew exactly why they were there. The spaniards came in and instigated a war with the natives just how english colonizers treated Native American’s. Both native people were attacked and misplaced by the colonizers.

Mary Rowlandson was a victim of the war going on around here and her views, opinions and ideas were also a victim of said war. Her beliefs and ideas towards the people should not diminish the acts done to her and her family but those acts should also not justify the acts of the colonizers before them.

-Noel Nevarez

The Irony of John Locke and America

Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative presents an interesting situation for Lockean philosophy. John Locke’s philosophy itself is a conundrum, and when applied to the foundations of America, helps us come to realization of the massive contradiction that our country continues to instill. The conception of America coincided with the line that “All men are created equal”, and was written by a man who owned hundreds of slaves. It is a common theme in America, the false promises, the irony, and outright injustice. Surely this is an unnecessarily complex issue that would find some sort of resolution with acceptance of diversity, and an avoidance of the devastating cycle of hate.

Locke philosophizes about societies coming together for the benefit of the individual, to avoid the perils of nature. His description of the state of nature, is targeted towards the natives, but he fails to realize the complexity of the political structure in native societies. He views their establishments as inferior, which is the first step to dehumanization, even though he stresses the equality of man. Locke’s doctrine on society and government is incredibly contradictory, which is why it was so popular to the forefathers of our country. Like America, Locke attempts to employ a heroic rhetoric of equality and greatness, but falls short, by carrying a general mindset of superiority that conflicts with the ability to find true peace. Locke addresses the institution of slavery on the basis of a government ruling it’s people, but doesn’t clearly address the notion of a society employing slavery for it’s benefit. His way of thinking helped lay down  the foundation of acceptance of slavery, and again, is why it was such a favored viewpoint in America. His explanation of the importance of property attempts to justify the destruction of natives, and diminished the rights of those such as slaves who did not possess such property. His thoughts and writing caused centuries of years of pain and suffering.

In the case of Mary Rowlandson, it seems that they may be some uncertainty on the boundaries of the state of nature, and the state of war. The conflict between the natives and the colonists seems to spark up and settle down from time to time, but it is essentially a perpetuating state of war, which through Lockean philosophy determines that the violence seen in the start of the story is in a sense acceptable. Locke’s work may have attempted to subject the natives to a state of nature and diminish their lives, rather than one of that carried the aspects of a society, but their societies were in reality quite complex.

-Thomas Pham