Swift's Vision Of Liberty Essay

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Swift’s vision of self-awareness and individual liberty In Gulliver’s Travels - book IV, Jonathan Swift tells the story of Gulliver’s final foray into unknown faraway lands, where he meets with fantastic creatures, that mirror aspects of his own society back home. Book IV sees Gulliver marooned on an island, by his own crew. The inhabitants he encounters, first the Yahoos and then the Houyhnhnms, are each meant to represent something of humanity. Under the influence of these two very different and strange creatures, Gulliver is quickly transformed. The Houyhnhnms and Yahoos, in turn, strip Gulliver of his empathy, and render him completely repulsed by the company of his fellow man. Swift uses his fantastic creations to torture Gulliver, by first showing the bestial and depraved state of human behavior (through the Yahoos), and then introducing him to creatures (the Houyhnhnms) that far exceed the human capacity for social and political contentment. The most upsetting thing for Gulliver is that the Houyhnhnms live in harmony, ostensibly, by employing reason, a characteristic which to man: some small pittance of reason had fallen, whereof we made no other use than by its assistance to aggravate our natural corruptions, and to acquire new ones which nature had not given us. (p. 318) That man cannot employ the same rational methods to govern himself, as the Houyhnhnms is evident throughout, and highlights what I think is part of Swift’s message: That humans possess an emotional component, that along with a capacity for reason, defines who we are. The first creatures that Gulliver comes in contact with on the island are the Yahoos, a creature that, although originally human has devolved into a repulsive and “odious” creature. Gulliver’s reaction to the Yahoo’s is immediate and unambiguous repugnance. He states: Upon the whole, I never beheld in all my

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