Book Notes Book 4, Chapters 5-8 Notes from Gulliver's Travels

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Gulliver's Travels Book 4, Chapters 5-8

Gulliver continues to explain English society to his master, and opens the cannons of war into discussion. Gulliver tells the reader that he places this portion of the many conversations in the text, because it is rather enjoyable and content, as opposed to insulting and furious. When his master inquires as to the motives of war, Gulliver responds in superfluity. There are reasons to defend a poor people, to revolt against an evil government, seize dominions, disagreements, holding land, invasion, self-defense, and so on and so forth. "Neither are any wars so furious and bloody, or of so long continuance a those occasioned by difference in opinion, especially if it be in things indifferent" Book 4, Chapter 5, pg. 292. When, his master inquires as to reason behind all of these actions, Gulliver explains the letters of English law - the constitution, in detail and definition. His master listens and comments often, observing and understanding as best he can. He does, however, offer his opinion about lawyers:

"Here my master, interposing, said it was a pity, that creatures endowed with such prodigious abilities of mind as these lawyers, by the description I gave of them, must certainly be, were not rather encouraged to be instructors of others in wisdom and knowledge. In answer to which, I assured his Honour, that in all points out of their own trade they were usually the most ignorant and stupid generation among us, the most despicable in common conversation, avowed enemies to all knowledge and learning, and equally disposed to pervert the general reason of mankind in every other subject of discourse, as in that of their own profession." Book 4, Chapter 5, pg. 297

When his master inquires as to why such a person would live in such a way as a lawyer, he is shocked to learn that it is all for money. Money controls the lifestyles of the English people, in so much as they live their lives for the rich, it would seem. His master cannot comprehend such a world. Furthermore, he cannot comprehend a world in which the land cannot furnish all necessities, such as food and water. Gulliver explains import/exports, and how people buy certain commodities from other countries, especially wine. Wine is another paradox of confusion for Gulliver's master, for he cannot understand why people drink this poison of sorts, which makes their lives shorter and fills them with disease.

Topic Tracking: Politics 13

When Gulliver begins to explain to his master that there is even another set of people who make their money by tending to sick people, he realizes that his master would still not understand. His master could probably not comprehend a civilization that cultivates illness and disease within its species. However, Gulliver remarks on many different disease, some carried by female yahoo prostitutes, and others a monthly plague for the female. He explains that he has some skills with tending to sick people and that there are ways of excavating the illness from the body - by the mouth cavity through vomit or the anus cavity through excretion. He continues to describe the 18th century primeval form of medicine to his master horse, until he changes his discourse back to government, as he describes the position of the Chief Minister of State.

"A First or Chief Minister of State, whom I intended to describe, was a creature wholly exempt from joy and grief, love and hatred, pity and anger; at least made use of no other passions but a violent desire of wealth, power, and titles; that he applies his words to all uses, except to the indication of his mind; that he never tells a truth, but with an intent that you should take it for a lie; nor a lie, but with a design that you should take it for a truth; that those he speaks worst of behind their backs are in the surest way to preferment; and whenever he begins to praise you to others or to yourself, you are from that day forlorn. The worst mark you can receive is a promise, especially when it is confirmed with an oath; after which every wise man retires, and gives over all hopes." Book 4, Chapter 6, pg. 302

These politicians are born of noble blood, which dictates a different type of life entirely than that of a common man. Gulliver delves into the life of a nobleman, with luxury, wealth, and power, and the course of his life. Since he was born of meager parents, he is at risk of falling into a cesspool of vermin and disease, even though he is successful and educated. Nothing is altered without the governing body of the noble men. Gulliver's master listens attentively.

Gulliver addresses the reader again, yearning for the truth after living amongst the Houyhnhnms for so long. He justifies the discourse of his retelling of English society to his master, for it would seem wrong to compare them to the horrific Yahoos. He observes this species intricately and speaks of their violent outbursts, battles (that would become the English equivalent of a civil war), their multiple uses of women, their affinity for dirt, their horrendous stench, and so on. Gulliver realizes how different he is from them, but also how different the Houyhnhnms are from horses. They have infinitely less diseases than even European horses and maintain a beautiful, meticulous appearance. However, the women are consistently the lower, more inferior species. "However, I could not reflect without some amazement, and much sorrow, that the rudiments of lewdness, coquetry, censure, and scandal, should have place by instinct in womankind" Book 4, Chapter 7, pg. 312. Despite all this, Gulliver still thinks fondly of his home isle in Europe.

Gulliver learns more about the Yahoos, and despises them each day a little more. He never realized that he might bear some resemblance or suffer from their brutishness. "They are strong and hardy, but of a cowardly spirit, and by consequence insolent, abject, and cruel. It is observed, that the red-haired of both sexes are more libidinous and mischievous than the rest, whom yet they much exceed in strength and activity" Book 4, Chapter 8, pg. 314. The Houyhnhnms keeps the yahoos nearby as servants in the huts and other such tasks. The Houyhnhnms have no meaning of deceit or dishonesty or fraud in their culture, and further, are ruled by the two virtues of friendship and benevolence. The yahoos, on the contrary, life their lives in opposition to the Houyhnhnms virtues. One day Gulliver de-clothes to go for a wash in the lake, and a female yahoo sprinted after him, leaping in the water with him. The Houyhnhnms live by reason and nature, and preserve decency and civility in their culture. They do not, however, follow formal ceremony, therefore treating a neighbor as his own family.

Furthermore, the female Houyhnhnm produces one of each sex, and then can leave her mate, propagating the species in the perfect amount. They choose specific colors of their mates in order to breed a strong offspring. Strength and comeliness are the reasons for mating, not love. There is no such thing as love, courtship, romance, and settlements in the land, and couples join because of parents and families, not because of their own love and desire. They practice speed and strength and races (horse racing), and hold a vernal equinox every fourth year to manage the society. For example, they mate specific Houyhnhnms with others at this time, and inquire as to the state of the lower species of cows and yahoos, and look at the weather and agriculture, to make sure everything is functioning satisfactory.

Topic Tracking: Gender Differences 8

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