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Gullivers Travels.Discuss the style and concerns of this extract, considering its significance within the text as a whole.

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Discuss the style and concerns of this extract, considering its significance within the text as a whole. In this extract of Gulliver's Travels, Gulliver has just been attacked by a herd of Yahoos throwing excrement at him, and his rescuers, the Houyhnhnms, observe him. Swift juxtaposes Gulliver's human vanity with the calm, rational nature of the Houyhnhnms to satirise the human assumption of being the most morally and rationally superior species. This is significant preparation for Gulliver's moral realisation towards the end of the book. This portrayal of Gulliver is perhaps a response against the Renaissance period views where mankind was celebrated as the ultimate being, and instead the neo-classical genre influence, where mankind was viewed as imperfect and inherently sinful but can redeem himself by a constant struggle towards humility, is strongly ingrained in the text. Gulliver's belief that humankind is the most superior species, which has been developed throughout his journeys, carries on to Houyhnhnmland, as suggested by Swift's choice of images and words. One aspect of the extract that reveals Gulliver's vanity as a human is his clothing. He makes several references in the first paragraph to his clothing: his 'hat' is 'discomposed' by the horses, and the fact that he was 'forced' to adjust it better shows that vanity, in the form of concealing imperfections through clothing, is an innate part of humans. ...read more.


Therefore, at this point Gulliver is still a being with no sense of humility. Meanwhile, because of their humility and simple lifestyles the Houyhnhnms do not understand any form of grandeur and unnaturalness that Gulliver possesses; instead of being critical of their ignorance, Swift presents it in a positive light because it complies with neo-classical virtues, something humans should constantly strive for. In all his previous journeys, when Gulliver meets a people he is critical of them: the Lilliputians for being so powerless as to have to tie him up, the Brobdingnagians for being life threatening and the Laputians for neglecting him. However, the Houyhnhnms seem to strike a perfect balance, calmly investigating him with 'new Signs of Wonder'; yet when Gulliver is hurt, they 'touched (him) with all possible Tenderness'. This harmony between a wondrous curiosity and careful treatment of the intruder does not lean towards any extremes; it is in balance, just as neo-classicism promotes. Another example of Houyhnhnm ignorance being treated positively is when in return of a favour, Gulliver offers gifts in the form of a 'knife' and a 'bracelet', which Swift uses as symbols of human lifestyle. The fact that he offers these as gifts shows that Gulliver highly values them, but to the horses these items are useless and so they respond to them with indifference. ...read more.


fully achieve it; but from the phrase 'I had better fortune', Swift also presents the notion that despite the imperfections in pronunciation, Gulliver still believes he is successful, and still seeks approval as he says the Houyhnhnms were 'amazed at my Capacity'. This foreshadows the realisation moment towards the end, when he repudiates from his own reflection. As the symbol of imperfect language suggests, while he struggles towards the ideal throughout all of part four, he does not have the capability to actually fully achieve it; yet instead of accepting this fact, he deludes himself by repudiating from his own reflection in order to gain approval as a virtuous being. Thus, this extract contains significant symbolic foreshadowing of the conclusion of the novel. In this extract, Swift has effectively presented the contrast between human flaws and ideal values through the juxtaposition of Gulliver and the Houyhnhnms, as well as choice of phrases with subtle connotations. It also aids in foreshadowing Gulliver's struggle towards humility, one which he never achieves, as suggested by the symbol of imperfect language. By showing readers Gulliver's mistakes, Swift is perhaps suggesting that the only way to live a virtuous life is to be in a constant struggle towards having the neo-classical virtues of reason and balance. Fryer for coursework.info Fryer for coursework.info ...read more.

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