Book 4, Chapters 1-4 Notes from Gulliver's Travels

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Gulliver's Travels Book 4, Chapters 1-4

After five months at home, Gulliver sets out to sea again, leaving his wife pregnant and alone. This time, he boards a ship called Adventure, which sets sail in September 1710. The ship encounters another ship under the auspices of Captain Pocock of Bristol, which it then loses. Gulliver's own sailors declare a mutiny on his power and tie him up, conspiring against him, making him their prisoner. After they spy land, the conspirators let Gulliver loose onto it, and he discovers a peculiar species.

"I fell into a beaten road, where I saw many tracks of human feet, and some of cows, but most of horses. At last I beheld several animals in a field, and one or two of these same kind sitting in trees. Their shape was very singular, and deformed, which a little discomposed me, so that I lay down behind a thicket to observe them better...Their heads and breasts were covered with a thick hair, some frizzled and others lank; they had bears like goats, and a long ridge of hair down their backs, and the foreparts of their legs and feet, but the rest of their bodies were bare, so that I might see their skins, which were of a brown buff colour. They had no tails, nor any hair at all on their buttocks, except about the anus; which, I presume, Nature had placed there to defend them as they sat on the ground; for this posture they used, as well as lying down, and often stood on their hind feet." Book 4, Chapter 1, pg. 269

These Yahoos, these hideous animals climb high trees with extended claws. They have miraculous agility, climbing and moving at a speedy rate. Gulliver believes them to be the most ugly and unappealing animals he has ever seen. Several horses come up to him, frightening Gulliver into battle of self-defense. However, they seem like people, and stand upright, eloquently speaking to him. One offers its right hoof as a handshake of sorts to Gulliver. Gulliver realizes that these miraculous animals speak a language and he introduces himself to them, requesting shelter and help in exchange for his own bracelet and knife. Gulliver learns the word, "Yahoo" and squeals it like a neigh from a horse. The two horses take their leave.

Topic Tracking: Exploration 12

The gray horse leads Gulliver to its home, where they are introduced to the master horse. Gulliver is aghast at first at the hay and barn-like lodgings, but graciously thanks his hosts continually throughout the days. Furthermore, at dinner, Gulliver is disgusted by the slab of ass meat thrown at him, and he expresses his deep hunger to his master. He looks around for milk and wheat, and finds a cow that he wants to milk. The master horse shows Gulliver a room with bottled and prepared milk and food, so that Gulliver will not need to do anything on his own. He addresses the readers, who probably wonder (in his mind) how he manages to stay nourished for three yeas in such a land of people-animals.

A powerful Houyhnhnm takes Gulliver under his wings to teach him the language and culture of the land. Gulliver has difficulty learning it, for he had nobody correcting his accent, vocabulary, and rationale. This master, inquires about Gulliver's position in life, and wonders how he can learn the language so easily with such a resemblance to a Yahoo. The Yahoos, he believes, are the most unteachable brutes in the land. He also wonders how Gulliver came to the land, for he cannot fathom another land across the sea. Gulliver learns that Houyhnhnm comes from the word, horse, which means the Perfection of Nature. He promises to work and study hard to learn the language and culture of the people, and within five months time, is speaking like a native. Word spreads quickly throughout the land that a creature resembling a brute Yahoo is capable of reason and intelligence, and many desire to make his acquaintance.

One night while Gulliver is sleeping, a Houyhnhnm spies him with his clothes half off, looking quite different than the presentable, clothed Englishman that he is. They question him and wonder why he changed his appearance so. Gulliver explains the reasoning behind clothing and further expresses his concern that his clothing will soon wear out. The master declares Gulliver a superior and special Yahoo, separate from the rest of the brutes, and desires to learn more about him. Gulliver relates his story of arrival in the land on a large vessel with fifty other of his species. He also conveys the fear and worry that nobody in Europe would believe this story, for how is it possible for a land to be ruled by the superior race of the Houyhnhnms (horses) and obeyed by the brutes, Yahoos (people).

Although Gulliver and his master discuss the different philosophies behind the societies from which they come, Gulliver cannot explain the idea behind a lie, for there is no such word or concept in Houyhnhnm.

"My master heard me with great appearances of uneasiness in his countenance, because doubting and not believing, are so little known in this country, that the inhabitants cannot tell how to behave themselves under such circumstances. And I remember in frequent discourses with my master concerning the nature of manhood, in other parts of the world, having occasion to talk of lying, and false representation, it was with much difficulty that he comprehended what I meant, although he had otherwise a most acute judgment." Book 4, Chapter 4, pg. 286

Gulliver explains the difference in horses and people to his master, illustrating the rules of society in England. Horses are bred in captivity to transport people and things, and can be whipped, ridden, and even castrated. Appalled by such information, the master erupts in a tirade of negativity and insults to Gulliver's race, the Yahoos. He initially does not understand why the horses are subjected to such treatment, for they can easily squash the people or throw them off onto the ground. Eventually, his master understands the idea of rational behavior in England and laws, government, politics, and such, and longs to hear more about Europe and Gulliver's origins. He finally understands human nature - with its lying and false representation - and listens as Gulliver speaks.

Topic Tracking: Politics 12

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