Jonathan Swift's Gulliver In The Land Of The Houyhnhnms

1363 words - 5 pages

Jonathan Swift's Gulliver in the Land of the Houyhnhnms

In the last voyage in Jonathan Swift's book Gulliver's Travels, "A voyage to the country of the Houyhnhnms," Swift describes his idea of an ideal society. There are many examples provided in this part of the book to convince the reader that Swift is indeed illustrating his idea of a utopia. By using horses as the most reasonable creature, Swift not only defaces human society by making a beast a more powerful creature, but also shows that humans are unable to attain this perfectly reasonable society.

The society that the Houyhnhnms live in is unlike any society known to man. The Houyhnhnms are perfect in the way they live their lives; they are always doing what is best for the society as a whole, as opposed to thinking only of themselves as individuals. They truly believe that the best interest for themselves is the same as the best interest of the entire species. When they choose their mates they do so with the best interest of the race as a whole in mind. "Strength is chiefly valued in the male, and comeliness in the female, not upon the account of love...," (217). This quotation illustrates that even when it comes to something like choosing their mates, they are not concerned with their own happiness. It is not even a choice that they choose to act in the best interest of the society; they do not know of an alternative way to act. They are raised to put themselves secondary to the health and well being of others. The Houyhnhnms are so perfect that Gulliver has to explain many different basics of the human lifestyle that do not apply to their being.

The Houyhnhnms do not understand the idea of justice because they are not capable of doing anything wrong. For this same reason they know nothing about the idea of laws that govern the European society, for they are raised to always proceed with reason, so there is no need for them to have laws. Gulliver explains the idea of war to the Master Houyhnhnm, and it is hard form him to understand the significance of it and why it would ever be needed. This idea can be shown in the following quotation: "The Houyhnhnms, indeed, appear not to be so well prepared for war, a science to which they are perfect strangers, and especially against missive weapons," (236). Gulliver tries to justify the causes of war and attempts to explain this idea to the Houyhnhnms, who can not grasp the concept of why such a thing would ever be necessary. The Houyhnhnms do not even have a word to describe such evil, as it is not something that exists in their world. The Master listens to all of Gulliver's stories and decides that humans are not unlike the Yahoo's after all. The Yahoo's are characterized by their greed and selfishness throughout the book, and humans are viewed to be of the same nature.

Swift thinks that the Houyhnhnm society is the ideal society; for this revealed by the way that he shows Gulliver wanting to become just like...

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