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Gulliver's Travels: Ideal Standards of Conduct

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Name: Jenny Ta Student#: 205350988 Course: English 1300-Introduction to Literary Theory T.A: Lee Danes Due Date: Thurs, Feb 13, 2003. Gulliver's Travels: Ideal Standards of Conduct Jonathan Swift's travel narrative Gulliver's Travels chronicles the adventures of one man's journey to new and exciting territories. Gulliver, the narrator visits many lands and makes endless observations and speculations of the cultures and people. On many counts, he compares and contrasts his own culture with theirs. He learns throughout his journeys, the different ideals and standards of conduct exemplified in those lands and also learns that his own culture is not as ideal as he once believed. The voyage that Gulliver takes which makes him doubt his culture the most is that of the houyhnhnms. The houyhnhnms are horse-like creatures that are ideal in every aspect. They live in such a way that they are very rational and live according to nature, they are absolute in that they know right from wrong and they are able to resist temptation. ...read more.


He said my Discourse was all very strange, but, especially the last part; for he could not understand why Nature should teach us to conceal what Nature had given. That neither himself nor family have ashamed of any parts of their Bodies, but however I might do as I pleased (200). Thus, the houyhnhms are creatures who live according to nature and humans depart from this ideal standard of conduct by wearing clothes to conceal what they really are. The houyhnhnms are also a creature of high moral values. They are very homogenous in the way that they think and act. Everyone knows right from wrong and the consequences of punishments and rewards. They are not open to other opinions for the fact that the more opinions there are, the greater the number of disagreements. Disagreements only lead to fights and subsequently, wars. Gulliver educates the houyhnhnms of his native England by explaining the notion of wars. ...read more.


Thus, houyhnhnms are ideal in their standard of conduct for they do not give in to temptations. Human beings, similar to the yahoos, depart from this ideal standard of living by wasting away on things such as alcohol. In conclusion, by discovering different cultures and habitats, Gulliver gradually changes his perceptions of where he comes from and the values and norms that he has grown up with. While on his voyage to the land of the houyhnhnms, he learns that there is a more highly civilized and ideal species than humans. The houyhnhnms are highly rational and live life free of all illnesses. Humans are prone to laziness, immoral behaviour and greed among many other imperfections. Even though humans may be civilized compared to many other animals such as primates for instance, they do fall short of idealness and high standards of living from the houyhnhnms. Therefore, species are only perceived as either civilized or uncivilized, moral or immoral if they are being compared to other species. ...read more.

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