The Growth of Gullivers Madness

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Jonathan Swift deployed Gullivers madness to make satirical comments on the less than idyllic qualities found in humanity and the manner in which humans can detach themselves or avoid recognizing themselves from such madness. In this paper I will analyze the growth of Gullivers madness in relation to part IV of Gullivers travels

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Gulliver descends into madness in part IV when he associates with the Yahoos and Houyhnhnms. He reflected the Houyhnhnms (horses) to be ideal and refined. Gulliver however recognized his human nature to be in the monster like Yahoos (humans). Gulliver refuses to accept and acknowledge the Yahoos as he becomes captivated with the Houyhnhnms culture and it being that they dont lie, are poetic, live in communities, treat one another respectfully and that they do avoid doing evil. He successfully imitates the Houyhnhnms very closely as possible and stays among them.

Gulliver depicts human nature to be repulsive, his madness detaches him from humans, and he so admires the Houyhnhnms and is much proud of becoming so dissimilar to humans. Gulliver had planned to spend the rest of his nature with the Houyhnhnms by practicing their orals and virtues, this is according to Folks, Jeffrey and James, Perkins, (1997). Unfortunately the Houyhnhnms asked him to depart when he is banished from being a yahoo. This happens at a time when he had disregarded his friends and family to be disgusting like the Yahoos. Eventually he returns home but could not condone the sight or smell of the Yahoos since he preferred the horses company.

According to DeGategno, Paul, and Stubblefield, (2006), Gulliver states that, "I had not been a Year in this Country, before I contracted such a Love and Veneration for the Inhabitants that I entered on a firm resolution never to return to human Kind, but to pass the rest of my Life among these admirable Houyhnhnms in the Contemplation and practice of every Virtue" (DeGategno). Jonathan swift therefore tries to relate much particulars of the Yahoos to the major virtues of the Houyhnhnms, their education, their youth exercise and their overall assembly. Gulliver requests to spend more time with the Yahoos in order to understand them closely, finally he is granted the chance.

Gulliver terribly complains that the Yahoos smell awfully, they act ridiculously, they are completely unkempt and that they throw their excrement to each other. He sneaks to a pond for a bath, he encounters a female yahoo who confronts him but later he is saved by a Houyhnhnms. Later on Gullivers master attends a major assembly of the Houyhnhnms as his district representative. On his return he encounters Gulliver and informs him of the assembly proceedings that the Houyhnhnms was discussing on whether yes or no to examine the Yahoos, and that he proposed that the Yahoos be castrated whilst young like Gulliver had told him before that the English horses often are castrated.

This will make the Yahoos easier to tame and that eventually they will die. Meanwhile the Houyhnhnms could breed asses, since they are much manageable and stronger in contrast to the Yahoos. Gulliver ascertains that the Houyhnhnms does not have a system of drafting letters neither do they read nor write, but they do maintain their knowhow based on oral tradition. They do have few sicknesses and do calculate years through the suns revolutions. He argues that the Houyhnhnms does live for about seventy years and that whenever one dies there is no major fuss. Gulliver intends to depart from his country and embarks at sea on a venture back to the Houyhnhnms.

The Houyhnhnms delivered Gulliver a nice room where he comfortably settles. The other Houyhnhnms began to worry about a yahoo inhabiting among them. They do fear that Gulliver might introduce revolution among his counterpart Yahoos. They again inform Gullivers master that it was high time that Gulliver ought to have left the island. Gulliver faints from grief upon getting to hear such information, since he had no other option, over the next few months Gulliver builds a canoe to sail him back to the Yahoos. In total disgrace and heartbroken, Gulliver sails back but before setting fort he does kiss his masters hoof.

Upon Gullivers dangerous voyage, he arrives at Holland wishing to settle there. One of the natives there gets Gulliver wounded, Gulliver gets seized and carried forcefully to a Portuguese ship and taken to England. As Gulliver peddles away offshore, he is determined not to get so far away from the Houyhnhnms and according to Swift, Jonathan, and Dutton Kearney, (2010), he writes, "My Design was, if possible, to discover some small island uninhabited, yet sufficient by my Labour to furnish me with the Necessaries of Life, which I would have thought a greater Happiness than to be first Minister in the Politest Court of Europe." He notes a small island where survives for four days feeding on raw oysters and shellfish while waiting to be discovered by the natives.

Gulliver tries to run into his canoe intending row away before his left knee getting shot. Gulliver sights a Portuguese ship but feels disgusted to share a ship with the Yahoos and decides to return on the opposite side of the island. The Portuguese did land and found Gulliver, he denies to leave, but the Portuguese crewmates decide not to let him alone on the island. Don Pedro who is the captain gets so kind to Gulliver but since Gulliver could not tolerate the Yahoos, most of his time he spent on his cabin very lonely. Gulliver sets in England and his family is delighted to see him alive, since Gulliver could not contain spending with the Yahoos, he purchases two horses and actually at least four hours in a day he could be seen in the stables conversing with the horses.

Gulliver expresses to his master the way the horses in England did treat him but the master does not really believe him the same way the English could not believe there was a place in the world where humans could be ruled by horses. Jonathan Swift introduces an interesting parallel between the governments of English and the Houyhnhnms when the grey horse attended the meeting, both of them exhibited similarities in entitlement to rule on merit basis.

This depicts how the English colonists of Swifts time usually felt superiorly moral to the native peoples but had to critically think of other alternative manners of ordering life and society before coming to a decision on whatever to be done according to Gullivers experience in his travels. Even though the Yahoos are much disgusting, one ought not to forget that the Yahoos do express some attractive features about the human nature.

The Yahoos exhibit strong emotions and are actually sexually active. According to Folks, Jeffrey and James, Perkins, (1997), Yahoos exhibit less than perfect manners and arent afraid to get dirty. On the other hand, the Houyhnhnms do not love, never shed tears whenever one dies, they are aloof and cold. In either case we should not be worried of being Yahoos but wary of the rumble and tumble life we experience. It is not quite right to become absentminded intellectuals either it is not right becoming aloof like the Houyhnhnms, basically it is very right being a yahoo (human).

The decision by the Houyhnhnms to eliminate the Yahoos is something of great interest. Firstly, the idea leads to a slow death off the race as a result of castration of Yahoo males. Gulliver directly contributes towards Yahoos subspecies destruction without remorse. Also the Houyhnhnms do desire to do way with the Yahoo race gradually by reducing their fertility rate than actually killing them though, the final result remains the same.

Gulliver narrates to his master the manner in which the English horses are treated. Here perception plays a chief role in Gullivers travels. The two expanses in Gullivers travel show various changes, the Houyhnhnms have virtue and are intelligent whereas the Yahoos agreeing with the grey stallion are dissimilar from Yahoos in the aspect of appearance although their ethics are the similar.

Gulliver goes too far desisting on humanity in favor of the Houyhnhnms, this clearly indicates that Gulliver is one kind of individual entitled to the sea to stay away from humanity, on his return, Gulliver slips into his isolated state, spending most of his day with the horses although he preserves a bit of attention in assisting the humans turn out to be better, seemingly by linking alternatives and choosing whatever is preeminent, the Houyhnhnms life. Conclusively all of us should consider alternatives and be our own deciders.


Based on the article Johnson's Quarrel with Swift, (2013), Gulliver does conclude his travel tales, ascertaining every virtue of his sentiments were based on truth. He says that he is able to spend, eat on the same table with his kinfolk although he still wishes on how to teach his family on how to overcome their vices. He anticipates to turn the world he inhabits to be more of like that of the Houyhnhnms.


DeGategno, Paul J, and R J. Stubblefield. Critical Companion to Jonathan Swift: A Literary Reference to His Life and Works. New York: Facts on File, 2006. Internet resource.

Folks, Jeffrey J, and James A. Perkins. Southern Writers at Century's End. Lexington, Ky: University Press of Kentucky, 1997. Internet resource.

Johnson's Quarrel with Swift: Johnson's Part in the Swiftian Tradition. Authorhouse, 2013. Print.

Swift, Jonathan, and Dutton Kearney. Gulliver's Travels: With an Introduction and Contemporary Criticism. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010. Print.

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