Gulliver, as portrayed in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travel is a Yahoo and not a Houyhnhnm.

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Gulliver in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travel is a Yahoo, not a Houyhnhnm. He does, however, reflect a compromise between absolute animalism (Yahoos) and pure reason (Houyhnhnms). He possesses traits from both the Yahoos and the Houyhnhnms. He is a normal man, but when it comes to logic, he becomes insane. He first meets the Yahoos in the Country of the Houyhnhnms, but his inability to understand their relationship to mankind causes him to refer to them as creatures (Swift 272). He distinguishes himself from his cousins, the Yahoos, and the European Yahoos. He is not all Yahoo, since Yahoo represents mankind’s depravity. Even though Gulliver despises the Yahoos, in many aspects the Yahoo society resembles his own but pride does not allow him to recognize the Yahoo aspects in him. Gulliver’s reacts to the Yahoos and is horrified by their similarity to him. His lack of humility and being disgusted with the Yahoos would not allow him to see himself as a Yahoo and therefore he tries to become a horse (Swift 278). His failed attempts to change himself into a more horse-like state makes him only more of a Yahoo than a Houyhnhnm.

Gulliver’s condemnation of fellow human beings because of their pride is ironical. Gulliver himself is proud and feel superior to everybody due to his over-identification with the Houyhnhnms (Swift 327). However, he is not and cannot be a Houyhnhnms, and this is evident from his expulsion from the Houyhnhnms because he is not one of them. The Houyhnhnms think that he is too smart and will therefore make the rest of the Yahoos to rebel against the Houyhnhnms. He should not even try to be a Houyhnhnm because Houyhnhnms are horses rather than humans, they are fully rational, innocent and undepraved. His attempt to be a Houyhnhnms only exposes his greatest weakness, and that is, gullible and proud. His devotion to reason makes him reject fellow humans who are less than entirely reasonable. Additionally, it’s his gullible nature that made him think of the Yahoos as aliens instead of horses that are alien to him. Eventually, he “reasons” himself and even rejects his species and nature.

Gulliver is better off as a Yahoo because the Houyhnhnms whom he admires keep the Yahoos chained in stables as beasts of burden because of the violent and cowardly nature of the Yahoos in the Houyhnhnms land. Gulliver’s wife, children and even cousins are Yahoos. Therefore he is better off as one of them. When he gets home, he cannot stand being in the same room with his children and wife for an extended period since he is still disgusted by people (Swift 276). Five years on, Gulliver still find himself in awkward situation owing to his disgust with the Yahoo. He can only tolerate having dinner in the same room with his wife if she sits far from him. To Gulliver, his family look and smell Yahoo and that makes him hate them and spends most of the time in his stable speaking with the horses. To the Houyhnhnms, they are convinced that Gulliver is a Yahoo from his account of civilization and is forced to agree that he is a Yahoo as the Houyhnhnms regard him as one (Swift 280).

Work Cited

Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver’s Travel. Ed. Albert Rivero. New York: Norton, 2002. Print.

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