Jonathan Swift Ideals
The tale of Gulliverís Travels can be described as a written criticism of the
society in which Swift lived. In each of the worlds Gulliver encountered the
problems he saw with the civilizations were actually the political and social
aspects Jonathan Swift disliked about his own world. He also accomplishes this
by giving the inhabitants of these worlds superior traits and attitudes in order
to compare them to and belittle the culture that surrounded Swift. An example of
this could be the intellectual and proper race of houyhnhnms. One of the most
interesting questions about Gulliverís Travels is whether the Houyhnhnms
represent his ideal of rationality or whether they are also part of Swift\'s
satire. In Book IV, is Swift poking fun at the talking horses or does he intend
for us to take them seriously. If we look closely at the way that the Houyhnhnms
act, we can see that in fact Swift does not take them seriously: he uses them to
show the dangers of pride. First we have to see that Swift does not even take

Gulliver seriously. For instance, his name sounds much like gullible, which
suggests that he will believe anything indicating that his perceptions of what
is good and bad may not be accurate making the teller of the story bias. Also,
when he first sees the Yahoos and they throw excrement on him, he responds by
doing the same in return until they run away. Even though as a human he is
suppose to be the most rational being there is, according to our beliefs. This
here is a perfect example of the way Swift shows the weakness of the human race
and how we can easily be influenced to behave immaturely and uncivilized even
though we see ourselves as the height of the living world. Lemule Gulliver is
clearly satirized as a human, but does that make the Houyhnhnms Swifts ideal
society? They walk on two legs instead of four, and seem to be much like people.

As Gulliver says, "It was with the utmost astonishment that I witnessed
these creatures playing the flute and dancing a Viennese waltz. To my mind, they
seemed like the greatest humans ever seen in court, even more dexterous than the

Lord Edmund Burke" As this quote demonstrates, Gulliver is terribly
impressed, but his admiration for the Houyhnhnms is short-lived because of their
intense pride. For instance, the leader of the Houyhnhnms claims that he has
read all the works of Charles Dickens, and that he can single handily recite the
names of all the Kings and Queens of England up to George II. Swift subtly shows
that this Houyhnhnms pride is misplaced when, in the middle of the intellectual
competition, he forgets the name of Queen Elizabethís husband. If he intended
for the Houyhnhnms to be the medium in which his satire was to be based he would
not show them to be capable of error. Swifts satire of the Houyhnhnms comes out
in other ways as well. One of the most memorable scenes is when the mare
attempts to woo the horse. First she acts flirtatiously, parading around the
bewildered horse. But when this does not have the desired effect, she gets
another idea: "As I watched in amazement from my perch in the top of a
tree, the sorrel nag dashed off and returned with a yahoo on her back who was
yet more monstrous than Mr. Pope being fitted by a clothier. She dropped this
creature before my nag as if offering up a sacrifice. My horse sniffed the
creature and turned away." It might seem that we should take this scene
seriously as a failed attempt at courtship, and that consequently we should see
the gray mares attempt as just a failure. But it makes more sense if we see that

Swift is being satiric here: it is the female Houyhnhnm who makes the move,
which would not have happened in eighteenth-century England. Is this Swifts way
of expressing his views on womenís liberation by making their society out to
be more equal and therefore more advanced? Or is he trying to put them down by
focusing on the mares foolishness for "hitting on a horse not capable of
the level of though in which she is? More likely than not he Swift was not
concerned with the sex equality aspect and used this scene to hurt the pride of
the mare which shows more imperfection in the Houyhnhnms. A final indication
that the Houyhnmns are not meant to be