Book 4, Chapters 9-12 Notes from Gulliver's Travels

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Gulliver's Travels Book 4, Chapters 9-12

There is a grand debate at the Assembly of the Houyhnhnms, in which the subject at hand is to exterminate all the yahoos. Some believe that they must rid the country of the inferior race, which is immoral and dirty. However, others, such as Gulliver's master, think more highly of them. Since his master is privy to Gulliver's opinions and history, he brings it up at the Assembly, telling everyone about a civilized yahoo, who wears clothing, has lighter skin, shorter claws, and lives in a place in which they castrate and lock up Houyhnhnms. Gulliver continues to learn from the Houyhnhnms, loving every moment he spends with them, breathing in their honest air, sharing their virtues, and learning from them. He realizes that they only die of old age, avoid casualties, are buried in obscure locations, yet carry no regrets. Furthermore, the friends and families of the deceased do not express joy, grief, or any type of emotion during such a time of tragedy. He looks on fondly at such a distinct society.

"I wanted no fence against fraud or oppression; here was neither physician to destroy my body, nor lawyer to ruin my fortune; no informer to watch my words and actions, or forge accusations against me for hire: here were no gibers, censurers, backbiters, pickpockets, highwaymen, housebreakers, attorneys, bawds, buffoons, gamesters, politicians, wits, splenetic, tedious talkers, controvertists, ravishers, murders, robbers, virtuosos; no leaders or followers of party and faction; no encouragers to vice, by seducement or examples: no dungeon , axes, gibbets, whipping posts, or pillories; no cheating shopkeepers or mechanics: no pride, vanity, or affectation: no fops, bullies, drunkards, strolling whores, or poxes: no ranting, lewd, expensive wives: no stupid proud pendants: no importunate, overbearing, quarrelsome, noisy, roaring, empty, conceited, swearing companions: no scoundrels, raised from the dust upon the merit of their vices, or nobility thrown into it on account of their virtues: no Lords, fiddlers, Judges or dancing-masters." Book 4, Chapter 9, pg. 325

Gulliver falls into a lifestyle with the Houyhnhnms that he adores, learning all about their culture, their people, and society. He befriends several of them, and eventually learns to detest his own image even more than that of a yahoo. He even tells the reader that he begins to act like the Houyhnhnms, trotting like a horse, which he accepts as a complement. However, the Assembly soon decrees that Gulliver's master must exhort the yahoo living in his house. Gulliver must leave the land. He is devastated by such news, but understands that he must obey the orders, for reason is a virtue in the land and he would never disobey it. After six weeks time, he builds a boat, and bids farewell to his beloved land. As he lowers himself to kiss the hoof of his master, his master raises it to him, as to show mutual respect. Gulliver leaves Houyhnhnm in his canoe-like boat, alone, seeking other lands.

Topic Tracking: Politics 14

He leaves Houyhnhnm on February 15, 1715 at 9 a.m. to good sea weather. He recalls his time held captive by his own seamen earlier and spies land. He sustains himself by eating raw shellfish and oysters. By December, Gulliver arrives at home in England after a middle stay in Lisbon. He fears the Inquisition will find him mad, after he explains of his stay with the Houyhnhnms and yahoos to everyone. They warn him that he will be unhappy living in Europe after his five-year exodus.

Topic Tracking: Exploration 13

When Gulliver finally returns home, his family is shocked, for they presumed him dead. He faints when his wife kisses him, for he has not touched such a hideous animal, in his eyes, for so long. For the first year back, he cannot endure the sight, smell, or company of his wife and children, and they do not touch any of his food or belongings. And, with the first bit of money he saves, Gulliver buys two horses, which he keeps in a clean stable nearby. "My horses understand me tolerably well; I conversed with them at least four hours every day. They are strangers to bridle or saddle, they live in great amity with me, an friendship to each other" Book 4, Chapter 11, pg. 339.

Gulliver completes his tales by addressing the reader with his intentions. He advises others to continue to travel, but be wary and honest and open to all other cultures. He recalls the Lilliputians, Brobdingnags, the Flying Island, and of course the beloved Houyhnhnms. He also acknowledges his reasons behind writing:

"I am not a little pleased that this work of mine can possibly meet with no censurers: for what objection can be made against a writers who relates only plan facts that happened in such distant countries, where we have not the least interest with respect either to trade or negotiations? ...I write without any view towards profit or praise. I never suffered a word to pass that may look like reflection, or possibly give the lease offence even to those who are most ready to take it. So that I hope I may with justice pronounce myself an author perfectly blameless, against whom the tribe of answers, considerers, observers, reflectors, detecters, remarkers, will never be able to find matter for exercising their talents." Book 4, Chapter 12, pg. 342

He continues to update the reader on his actions since his return. After some sixteen years traveling, he now resides back in Redriff, his home, and has finally allowed his wife to eat with him at the table. However, his entire devotion continues to the horses - the Houyhnhnms. Gulliver looks around at English society and cannot help but to compare.

"But the Houyhnhnms, who live under the government of Reason, are no more proud of the good qualities they posses, than I should be for not wanting a leg or an arm, which no man in this wits would boast of, although he must be miserable without them. I dwell the longer upon this subject from the desire I have to make the society of an English Yahoo by any means not insupportable, and therefore I here entreat those who have any tincture of this absurd vice, that they will not presume to appear in my sight." Book 4, Chapter 12, pg. 346

Topic Tracking: Exploration 14

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