How are the Yahoo mating customs similar to those of humans?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hello! In Gulliver's Travels, Gulliver tells his Houyhnhnm listeners that Yahoos in his country (England) generally rely on money to commence flirtations and romantic liaisons. He tells them that the richest Yahoos have the pick of the most beautiful women.

Gulliver's Houyhnhnm master tells him that the Yahoo women are the only animals in his country who have sex when they are pregnant. What's more, the male Yahoos fight with other female Yahoos with the same brutality they use against other male Yahoos. He says that sometimes female Yahoos would stay back behind a bank or a bush to spy on male Yahoos passing by. The female Yahoos would then try to get the male Yahoos to follow after them by alternating between chasing after them and withdrawing. Gulliver is disturbed that the 'rudiments of lewdness, coquetry, censure, and scandal, should have place by instinct in womankind.'

So, you might say that Swift didn't think too much of women and their habitual gossiping, back-biting, and flirtatious, lustful ways. From what the Houyhnhnm Master Horse tells Gulliver about female Yahoos, it seems that Gulliver also thinks the mating habits of English women are similar to that of the Houyhnhnm female Yahoos. Both tend to flirt and engage in coquetry in order to draw the attention of the opposite sex.

Thanks for the question.