Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

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Part IV, Chapters 6-8: Summary and Analysis

Gulliver continues to describe English society to the dapple-gray, and continues to have difficulty explaining human concepts such as money. The Houyhnhm is amazed at human inequality, and at the use by humans of luxuries such as wines and liquors, some of which have to be imported. Gulliver then explains that the bad habits of human beings cause illness, which in turn requires the services of physicians and pharmacists, who often cause rather than prevent death, making them “of special use to husbands and wives who are grown weary of their mates, to eldest sons, to great ministers of state, and often to princes.” Gulliver explains that a minister of state is a creature totally exempt from any human emotion except for a violent desire for wealth, power and titles, and who never tells the truth without meaning that it should be thought a lie and vice versa. People rise to high office, according to Gulliver, only by undue influence or hypocrisy. The three principal instruments of statecraft are insolence, lying, and bribery. Politicians are, in the last resort, governed by a “decayed wench or favorite footman.”

When Gulliver mentions nobility, the dapple-gray notes that among the Houyhnhms, those of certain colors are better-shaped and more intelligent than others, who continue in the condition of servants. The dapple-gray expressed the opinion that Gulliver must be a noble of his own nation. Gulliver denies that he is a noble and says that in England young noblemen are bred from their childhood in idleness and luxury. A weak, deformed body and the like are signs of noblemen, and these noblemen form one body whose consent is needed to pass laws (the House of Lords is referred to).

In Chapter Seven, Gulliver explains how he could so freely describe mankind to a race already too apt to have the worst idea of humans, on account of the Yahoos. He explains that his admiration for the Yahoos had enlarged his understanding, diminishing his opinion of mankind. His master (the dapple-gray) had observed faults previously not noticed. Gulliver admired the Houyhnhms so much that he wanted never to leave them and return to human kind. He has a hard time thinking about leaving a society characterized by every virtue, with no incitement to practice vice. Gulliver states that he extenuated human faults as much as he could while speaking to the Houyhnhms.

After Gulliver finishes his account of his country, his master (the dapple-gray) states that the humans described by Gulliver somehow (he could not conjecture the reason) developed some small pittance of reason, which they use only to increase their natural corruptions and acquire new ones. In return for this, they had lost the physical abilities that the Yahoos still had, such as strength and agility. Owing to humans’ gross defect in reason, they lack virtue. Reason is enough to govern a rational creature. The dapple-gray continues that the Yahoos hate one another because of their ugliness, which they can see in others but not themselves. The Yahoos are selfish and unable to share. They fight over food, and sometimes they fight without visible cause, similar to what Gulliver calls a civil war. The Yahoos esteem shining things of a certain color, fight over them, and hide them, being sad when they are unable to find them. He is unable to discover the reason but thinks it similar to human avarice as described by Gulliver. The dapple-gray also describes how the reactions of the Yahoos to a certain rare root are similar to Gulliver’s description of human reactions to liquor.

The Yahoos, the dapple-gray continues, are the only animals in his country subject to illness, which is cured by forcing a mixture of their own dung and urine down their throats. Gulliver adds that he has done this himself and successfully cured illness.

According to the dapple-gray, the most deformed Yahoo was the leader. Other Yahoos licked its posterior. They fight over the females of the species. They have a...

(The entire section is 1,468 words.)