Voltaire, Pope, Gulliver's Travels: the Enlightenment and How They Were Influenced

Topics: Gulliver's Travels, Candide, Voltaire Pages: 6 (2562 words) Published: February 7, 2013
Bre Brittain
English 2332

In Joanthans Swifts’ Gulliver’s Travels Part IV he uses a certain character to be his perfect example for what the human race should be. With this character he then will compare to the lowest of all beings to illustrate all the faults of man. These characters in his story are called the Houyhnhnms, which have a uniquely similar pronunciation to the word humans, and the Yahoos, who are the evil beasts of this particular island that Gulliver has washed up upon. Throughout the story as Gulliver describes the people of his home to the Houyhnhnms the reader begins to see how Swift shines a light on all the faults that humans have; compared to a divine, simple and perfect creature as the Houyhnhnms. Gulliver tries to distinct himself from the Yahoos of this land, who he absolutely abhors, by explaining his people’s ways and showing they have the ability to reason, unlike the Yahoos. The reader easily begins to see what Swift is trying to accomplish with his writings. He lets the reader make their own assumptions of the human race, but makes the assumption very clear. Within the story Gulliver describes how “his eyes had been opened and enlarged his understanding, which he began to view the actions and passions of man in a very different light”(puchner291). Gulliver begins to see that the thick skin, extra hair and long nails are merely the only thing separating himself from the Yahoos. This eye opening is exactly what Swift wants his readers to experience and see that there are so many despicable faults and useless ways of life in their society. The slow dissembling of the faults within man and questioning of the ways of mankind are in complete alignment with the ideas and ways of the Enlightenment, which was in short, to question everything. As Gulliver’s stay on the island continues, this questioning and examination of every aspect of his former life continues as well. The Houyhnhnms, or voices of reason, go on to question the laws of Gulliver’s land. One Houyhnhnms states how he cannot even contemplate how “the law which was intended for every man’s preservation should be any man’s ruin” (puchner285). Swift takes a deep stab at the governments’ ways of workings at the time and simply shows how it is anything but just and does not make any sense. Swift also makes a remarkable point in the direction of women’s rights, and uses common since to show how the treatment of women of the time was entirely reckless. The voice of a Houyhnhnms explains how it would be “monstrous in them to give the females a different kind of education from the males” (puchner298). The Houyhnhnms says how this way holds no logic, because it would leave one half of their people only useful for the bringing of children into the world and leave them good for nothing else (puchner298). Swift does not stop there and states how irresponsible it would be to not only leave this group inadequate but to then trust the care and upbringing of their children with these completely incompetent creatures. His reason here is very sound and unmistakable; how can you expect a society to flourish if the raising of man is done by the lowest creature of their society. Gulliver tries to prove to be different form the Yahoos by the fact that he can reason. The Houyhnhnms can see straight through this and one states that “when a creature pretending to reason could be capable of such enormities, he dreaded lest the corruption of that faculty might be worse than brutality itself” (puchner285). Through the Houyhnhnms response Swift dives into the depths of what humankind is capable of. He tackles how we may have the power of reason but have abused it to the full extent and instead of like the Yahoos caused destruction outwards on the world we have brought corruption into the inner beings of our society. Swift’s writings in Gulliver’s Travels question the entire makings of humankind and even the inability of people to dare to question....
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