Wordsworth of the Modern Day: America, 2017

A Modern imitation of Wordsworth’s poem:

Jefferson! Your declaration has turned against you:

America needs your return; She has become the home of political unrest.

Of corrupted shores: rebellion, terrorism, and insanity,

Seaside, the great country of freedom,

Has revoked her own former glory

Of Democracy. We are our own demise;

Please! Rise from the grave, return to life;

And return us to Freedom, Liberty, and Democracy.

Your writings like a guiding sign, and long forgotten:

You once had a voice that lead to our country’s liberation:

Clear as a cloudless sky, open, unyielding,

So did you wish for this fate,

In regretful acceptance; and yet your heart

At the destruction did not sway.

Is Sophie Just Another Teenager?

Sophia is definitely a young teenager, who clearly doesn’t care to give attention towards the political aspects that are happening on the “sidelines” of her stay in India. We get a sense of “me, me, me”, dare I say monumental ego? In Letter IX, there is still a pretty formal introduction as to what is happening, but it is one of the first times she gets a little more into the politics surrounding her. It shows a great deal of hierarchy, the servants don’t speak in broken English, and she likes that she doesn’t have to fuss with a servant who is English illiterate. As Sophia begins to discuss “The Writer’s Building”, and interacts with George Lyttelton’s poem Advice to a Lady and writes “Her fairest virtues fly from public sight, Domestic worth, that shuns too strong a light.”(58), I seen it as she understands something political is going on but rather like the lines say, her role in society is to just be a wife. It isn’t okay for a woman to enter into the political spectrum, her duty is to look pretty. Which is why we can see Sophia illustrating herself as a beautiful young woman. Men are meant to be in power, and women are only meant to be in the shadow of men.

George Lyttleton was a member of Parliament from 1735 t0 1756.  In this poem he acknowledges the struggles women have to go through, he acknowledges men are not the best creatures, but in such “women still need to be servants to their husbands”.

Viviana Ojeda

“I know what I know, therefore knowing what I know makes me so like smart; like, ya know?”-Sophia

Phebe Gibbs in, Hartley House, Calcutta, introduces the world to a privileged European sixteen year old Sofia, and her narrow perspective of life, through the letters she writes to her friend Anabella.  Throughout the description of India, and all its surroundings, is an over exaggerated sense of nostalgia.  The nostalgia, being she in the center of it all; and the center being her.  In each letter, she writes of the people she meets, and proceeds to analyze them, as well as rate them at different levels of importance.  Her grading system is all dependent of her own knowledge and level of education. Thus, whenever she responds to the acquaintance of someone new, she refers quite often to English literary works and authors to solidify her judgment of them.  

    Upon one of her location stays, she refers to a woman named Mrs. Rider who is giving her a tour of the Mrs. Hartley’s room and closet, and mentions:

“The drapery is well executed, the attitude happily chosen, the likeness masterly, the commentary of the Genius of Shakespeare, which lies on a table in the background…

I feel myself proud when my mind tells me this lady is my countrywoman”(Gibbs, 148).

Two things can be seen here: one, she places herself on a level of all-knowing and implies that what she is well versed on- such as that of authors like Shakespeare- entitle her to a sense of authority; and two, she places Mrs. Hartley in a higher echelon, only for having shown an affection for Shakespeare work, and in that attaches herself to Mrs. Hartley’s elite “worth.”

    Sophia, while truly convinced that she is exploring a new world, only continues to revisit the same conventions she is used to and glorifies -her own self, and that of anything glitzy and glamorous.  It indeed alludes to the  notion that even on a level of academia, her lack of really appreciating other scholars and not holding them up to that same regard as she does to European authors, shows how much European authors were viewed as exclusively supreme; or, rather, the bar to reach.

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez

Throwing Culture Out the Door for English.

I don’t believe the English changed much from Johnson’s time to Ray and Macaulay’s time. During Johnson’s time the English language was expanding and had no set rules or structure. There was no proper way to write one word so he set out to change that by creating a dictionary. His dictionary wasn’t useful in the way he thought it would be useful. He thought everyone would flock to his dictionary to check their spelling and the meaning of the word, but what it really was used for was to show the importance of having standards for English. The English language was expanding due to people spellings words slightly different from one another and because the English language was picking up words from other countries and languages. The English language was created for science, so scientists could communicate their discoveries. And new words were being invented faster than Johnson’s dictionary could keep up. I believe the English language had stayed the same in the sense that it was expanding and consuming other parts of different languages. It had changed in the sense that it had evolved to be a more defined, coherent, updated version of itself.

During Macaulay’s time the English language was still being expanded and formed with Indian words. English had reached the point where it was ready to go out into the world and share its use. In India, English was being introduced and being taught but there wasn’t much support to learn English as there was to learn Sanskrit and Arabic. Macaulay’s argued for the introduction of English and French as foreign languages to be studied. For English and French literature, science, and philosophy to be subjects of academic study in schools and have less emphasis on Arabic and Sanskrit. “We have to educate a people who cannot at present be educated by means of their mother-tongue.” “Whether we look at the intrinsic value of our literature, or at the particular situation of this country, we shall see the strongest reason to think that, of all foreign tongues, the English tongue is that which would be the most useful to our native subjects.” From these two quotes pulled from Minute by the Hon’ble T. B. Macaulay, he makes the statement that to educate the people it would be better to teach them English. That English would work better for their subjects and progress in science. It does have an imperialistic sound to it: claiming that a movement away from native languages, culture, and studies would be a step towards the better and future. Macaulay made a well argued point to have English be the language to replace their native tongue shows how well English must have evolved if people are willing to throw their old language out the door.

In  Roy’s writing he also calls for English language education in India in hopes that it will modernize India’s society and Indian education. He writes that students learning Sanskrit and Arabic are learning what was known two thousand years ago,but must now be taught what was going on at the moment and the language of the future. Roy also points out how difficult it is for natives to learn Sanskrit and that it would be easier for them to just have academics taught in English.

– Andres Quezada

Gulliver Conforms

The suggestion given in Gulliver’s Travels aludes to the notion that Houyhnhnm way of living is the key to happiness, is perhaps Swift’s satiric method in showing how such a society is impossible, if anything, hysterically fictionalized.  In addition, as the reader, we can’t help but find it odd that the species do not carry a sense of their own individuality. If anything, their identities are rather ambiguous, thus the world that they live in lacks variety; in other words, there is no diversity, hence all Houyhnhnm are seen as perfect based on the reflection they see in one another.  

Gulliver’s arrival to the foreign land, and reception by the Houyhnhnm even shows their curiousity towards him for appearing different and for his choice in having migrated there. Gulliver describes in Part IV, Chapter I, “They were under great Perplexity about my Shoes and stockings, which they felt very often…using various gestures, not unlike those of a Philosopher,…when he would attempt to solve some new and difficult Phenomenon (209).” This not only shows their “perplexity,” but it also shows Gulliver’s as he can’t help but compare their characteristics, even in the way they delegate, versus what he is used to with the English.  

Later in the chapter we learn that the only diversity that does is exist is between two kinds, the Houyhnhnm and the Yahoos; of course, one is seen as less civil.  The irony in that is that Gulliver cannot distinguish the difference until it is brought to his attention, therefore again alluding to the impression that that species themselves are living a lie, a lie they have been conditioned to believe since their beginnings.  

Slowly, but surely we see Gulliver begin to remove any previous ways of thinking and beliefs he had, previous to arriving on their land.  He puts them on a pedestal, and eventually assimilates himself into their culture.  He disregards anything that seems unfair, especially the perspective they have towards the Yahoos; hence, we can assume that society would rather turn a blind eye to social injustices rather than resist.  Gulliver basically blindly conforms to the Houyhnhnm “enlightened” society.

-Maricela Martinez (Marcy)

*eugenics

*slave

*deportation

War, It happens

As Swift suggests “humankind would be happier if it could think and behave the way the Houyhnhnms do” I would havento disagree with this idea.

In part four chapter five on pg. 228, Gulliver has spent a good amount of time describing War to the Master Horse, and “I was going on to more Particulars, when my Master Commanded me Silence. He said, Whoever understood the Nature of Yahoos might easily believe it possible for so vile an animal, to be capable of every Action I had named, if their Strength and Cunning equaled their Malice. But as my Discourse had increased his Abhorrence of the whole species, so he found it gave him a Disturbance in his Mind, to which he was wholly  a Stranger before.”

Shortly after Gulliver smiles at Master Horse’s ignorance, but it is very clear war is not okay. And as Gulliver explains war, it really seems as if he is trying to justify those who have called wars. Yet Master Horse cannot understand why one would want to go to war, there shouldn’t be any reason to hate someone so much you would want to go to war with that individual. And yes I can agree, why would someone want to go to war, if it creates such unwanted chaos among all who are involved and even to those who are not involved. If  we even look on our own history, most of our land and freedom was built because of war.

I like Gulliver’s smile and Master Horse, because it’s a simple remark that has a great meaning. War is something we ultimately can’t escape from, it is bound to happen, we have very little control over it. It is a simple flaw of our human nature, we are naturally competitive with each other, we naturally debate with others who have opposing ideas. His little smirk isn’t out of disrespect, but out of “You really have no idea”.

I also think it’s interesting how the Yahoo’s are constantly described as being animals, the disrespect they are so often given doesn’t justify the Houyhnhnms to think of the Yahoo’s  as such a horrible race that aren’t important, are described as being so “vile”. The Yahoo’s aren’t worthy to be understood as a society, nor do they have any great ideas. As they are constantly described as being evil, and savage. The Houyhnhnms are essentially proposing their way is the only important way to think, to do, their actions are not evil, yet what they are implying is they are the true nation, they are right in all they do. But the reality is is they want a complete Utopia, which essentially is impossible to accomplish. A Utopia would never work because there is too much individuality , too many different ways of thinking, there would never be a way we’re everyone could be under the same system unless it was by a dangerous force, which we can imply by Master Horse. Master Horse’s ignorant view on war is rather disturbing, how could you not know about the dangers of war, or pretend to know of such thing? Ultimately it is impossible to accomplish.

Viviana Ojeda

Language: An Abandoned Blessing

Society is and has always been, so long as we remain human, mortal beings with emotion, imperfect and yet ever so synchronized. It bends and twists accordingly with the ideals of the present mindsets of the time, reflecting upon its flaws and still keeping together the sanctuary of human civilization, or at least it feels as if it seems controlled within a world of random, unjust natural and unnatural occurrences. Then criticism is offered to this society, as it has always been, and for the moment, most would comfortably reject those ideals and sit in their unchanging paradise like cogs in a machine. Gulliver’s Travels then, presents here something so absurd it makes sense, something one cannot merely dismiss. What if, what if – horses, intelligent horses, lived a more close-knit society, a more philosophically pleasing lifestyle, a more just view of an individual’s purpose? It’s comedic to say, but Swift uses that attention and proves that this may very well be possible (the form of society, that is). Then one must face certain insecurities and doubts of the very society that holds us together and sane, and there’s no better way to do it than with a bunch of horses.

Two things in unison enlighten the reader of natural human failures of communication, providing an ideal and the unfortunate manipulation of language to favor unjust motives. The Houyhnhnms are a species eager to communicate, and have shown signs in attempts to do so even with the most brutish creatures. The Yahoos, as described in Chapter 3 of the 4th part, are unteachable and completely savage, but in their description the Houyhnhnms have shown that there have indeed been attempts to communicate, their astonishment at Gulliver’s intelligence can only be in reference to a struggle previously ensued with the Yahoos. In short, this shows that despite the appearance of the Yahoos, the Houyhnhnms have definitely attempted to communicate, and more so, they seem to be more welcoming to them regardless than say a certain other “civilized” society that instead chose to butcher the native peoples. It likewise shows the importance of communicate to the Houyhnhnms, they are eager to do so thoroughly and clearly, which brings the following point established in Chapter 4 of the same part of the book, when Gulliver introduces the concept of lying, which only confuses the Houyhnhnms, something “worse than Ignorance” (221).

With these two key ideas taken into account, one can assume the sheer value of fair, even communication for the Houyhnhnms, where something even as trivial as lying is something to be condemned and useless. Looking further, it jabs at the fact that humans can do many things with language, and yet we choose not to do so. People ignore each other, fail to pick up on the concept of empathy, lie without remorse, all of which have become norms in just about every first world society in some aspect or another. Things can be settled with fair discussion, understanding can bond peoples despite major differences, it can spark and further advance human ideologies and theories, instead we may as well be the Yahoos. Though we are capable of communicating, we essentially butcher the lines of communication, assuming things of each other, casting judgement and ignoring the other’s words. When one thinks truly of the power of language, one realizes that so many things within society today are horribly unnecessary, with simply applying the use of empathy and fair communication. Instead, apathy, inequality, deception, and dehumanization is birthed where clear communication dies, and unfortunately the norm set is that it seems to be completely fine to do so, to disconnect and forget the relationships we form as if they meant nothing, to spew hatred upon a differing group for merely having differing ideas, where lying and twisting the truth to achieve a motive is much more important than clear representation of oneself. It would be a beautiful world, one where people actually cared to listen to each other completely despite disagreement, where conflict is settled in educated courts, where our fellow beings are treated equally with respect, all on the basis and appreciation of communication. It seems like an inflated subject, ultimately coming from a bunch of horses, but think of it: as humans, as intellectual beings capable of communication, so many events of misunderstanding occur, so many instances of dehumanization allow violence and apathy to strike. If we had the motivation to seek to communicate more, rather than to isolate ourselves, if we opened up to speak with even people we perceived as “savage”, we would learn to appreciate the differences more. Or one could laugh, muttering “what silly horse people”, close the book and forget. We can continue to lie, cut people off without a second thought, to judge those whom we have not understood, just like a Yahoo would.

-William Fernandez

Utopia or not?

I disagree that human kind would be happier if it could think and behave the way the Houyhnhnms do.

While Swift uses the Houyhnhnms as a Utopia for what society should be like the phrase itself is, in my perspective, an indicator as to how ridiculous the concept itself sounds. It’s ridiculous in the way that it’s not something society can obtain; it overall seems like a made up concept in order to expose what is wrong with the way 18th century Europe was coming along. The attraction of the Houyhnhnms was that they possessed reason and that their society is envisioned through a common wealth, indicating a contrast to how Europe and the New World were. These two places are driven by authority figures and are constructing a society based on lies and demands rather than as a unit with every citizen involved. While the Houyhnhms’ Utopia is “as good as it gets” is it realistic?

This reminds me of 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes since his novel Leviathan goes further into deconstructing the idea that people could live in harmony through a common wealth. When people are put on equal ground they, according to Hobbes, will soon compete with one another in order to strive in society since they do not have structure in society as to how things should be run. Adding the increase in competition society may enter a state of war in which they no longer live in harmony but rather a contrast of the Utopia envisioned in Gulliver’s Travels. Ultimately, that is why it becomes crucial to have authority figures so that a society does not have to enter a state of war and thus have a better chance in living with the fundamental laws of nature in order to maintain peace within themselves and their society.

 

– Kristy Frausto

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

Houyhnhnm’s Way of Life vs the European Yahoo’s Way of Life

In the beginning, it seems that Swift is making the point that humans would be happier if they lived similarly to the Houyhnhmns. This is evident in the part 4 when Gulliver finds himself wanting to stay with the horses of Houyhnhmns and follow their way of life rather than return to the European Yahoos. In chapter 7, Gulliver tells his horse master that he would like to stay and live with the horses rather than return home. When the Houyhnhmns explain to him and show him what Yahoos are, he is appalled by them. He asks the horses to stop calling him a  Yahoo as he does not want to be affiliated with those disgusting and simple creatures. Even when he is forced to go back home, he can’t help but think of the Europeans as Yahoos and is appalled by his own family. He buys two horses which he would spend four hours talking to for two years before accepting the fact that there was no returning to Houyhnhmnland.

In Houyhnhmnland, Gulliver is in a limbo between the Houyhnhmns and Yahoos because he is neither intelligent like the horses nor primitive as the Yahoos. He tries to assimilate to the Houyhnhm way of life, but he can only partially pretend to be as rational and sensible as them for in the end he is still more Yahoo than horse. When he returns home he is fully enthralled into believing that the Houyhnhmn way of life was the proper way o life that he went mad for a while and saw his family as primitive and disgusting. In my opinion, if Gulliver was truly rational as the horses, then he wouldn’t let his emotions get the better of him and go mad as a Yahoo would.

The attractive features of the Houyhnhmn way of life is their friendship, benevolence, and the way they are concerned more with the well being of the group rather than the individual. Everything they do is done with solid reasoning behind it, such as choosing a mate. They choose the best suited mate to promote the advancement of their race. But I feel that is where Swift satires the Houyhnhmn way of life. Throughout all of Gulliver’s four voyages,  Swift has satirized all the societies Gulliver has encountered and Houyhnhmnland is no exception. In the first three voyages we view the societies with as Gulliver does, but in the fourth voyage we are forced to examine the society and Gulliver as well. This is where there’s a shift in the method of satire that Swift uses. I believe that the Houyhnhmn lifestyle is Gulliver’s ideal, but that life style is too dull, boring, monotone. The Houyhnhmns are deprived of any real meaning of life, they are bred to advance the population, they are driven by rational not by emotions. They live a simple life style but at a cost; they are not able to mate for the reason of love, but in order to advance their population. Imagine marrying someone because the offspring you and that person would advance the species. Sure at first it sounds great, “Like yeah my children will promote the population”, until you realize that you’re marrying and having a kid with someone you don’t love, have nothing in common with, and have different ways of parenting. Their way of life is basically planned out from the day they are born. They are deprived of emotions, with the exception of feeling disgust, and complexity, which is what makes life worth living. All the vices, selfishness, love, hate, and all the other emotions are what make human life rich. If everything becomes practical and predictable, it then becomes boring and you just go through the motions not really experiencing anything new. You are no longer that special individual ,”snowflake”, but just another horse working the same way as the others. The Houyhnhmns are happy because that lifestyle suits them specifically, but it is not the lifestyle for humans. A good example would be the way Gulliver acted when he came back to his own civilization from Houyhnhmnland. He was shown kindness by Don Pedro, but Gulliver sees him as an animal/beast becasue he still is in the mindset of the horses. Gulliver is not happy in Europe even though he is living in the manner of the horses, because that lifestyle was not meant for him nor humans in general. Humans are complex creatures that were not meant to live as the Houyhnhmns.

– Andres Quezada