Gulliver's giant feet walking in the diminuative forest of the lilliputians

Gulliver's Travels

by Jonathan Swift
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Does Gulliver experience a particular conflict between passion and responsibility in Gulliver's Travels? I'm looking for a representation from Gulliver's Travels that illustrates the recurring theme in literature of the classic war between a passion and responsibility. For instance, a personal cause, a love, a desire for revenge, a dtermination to redress a wrong or some other emotion or drive that may conflict with moral duty.

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During Lemuel Gulliver’s strange travels, he learns much about himself and humanity. It is, however, in Part IV, when he meets the Houyhnhms, when he experiences the final break between his passion and his responsibility.

Like all married men, Gulliver’s primary responsibility is to his wife and family.  He maintains this responsibility relatively well, even though he is on an involuntary journey that keeps him away from them.  Indeed, for the most part of the book, his passion and responsibility are relatively uniform, both being focused on being a good family man.

However, when he reaches the Houyhnhms, Gulliver develops a passion that separates him completely from his role as family man, and indeed from humanity in general.

Through is interactions with the alien race that looks like horses, Gulliver comes to the conclusion that humanity is little better than the barbaric “Yahoos,” a native humanoid race. This drives him to an extremely passionate disgust, not only for human beings in general, but also for himself and his family. This negative passion drives him away from his responsibilities towards his family.

Gulliver wallows in this for a long time after returning home. Even as he learns to accept at least his wife and family again, he never completely distances himself from the passionate disgust that led to the separation between them.


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