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Gulliver's Travels | Study Guide

Jonathan Swift

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Part 4, Chapter 7

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Part 4, Chapter 7 of Jonathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels.

Gulliver's Travels | Part 4, Chapter 7 | Summary



Gulliver's account of his home country stems from his reflections on the human state as inferior to the state of the Houyhnhnms. After his first year on the island, he is so impressed by the Houyhnhnms that he vows never to return to human society. He wants to remain on the island "in the contemplation and practice of every virtue."

The master assesses the overall weakness of humans, both in character and physical prowess. While the Europeans may wear clothes and appear different from the local Yahoos, he decides that they suffer from the same vices and are inferior to the Houyhnhnm race. He describes how the island's Yahoos will fight over a piece of meat or the colored stones they hoard. The Yahoos give all their physical appetites free rein. Yahoos have a rudimentary system of governance, which the master believes is similar to the system Gulliver describes in England. He condemns the lack of reason and virtue in European governance and believes Gulliver has said the "thing which is not" in his descriptions, painting a rosier picture of Europe than the truth, despite Gulliver's highly critical presentation.


Gulliver's disillusionment with humanity has been building at least since the time of his talking with the dead in Glubbdubdrib, when he became frustrated with the falsehoods of history and the deceptions of government. His opinion of humanity could not have been helped by his unceremonious ejection from his own ship, and the Yahoos certainly do nothing to help his opinion of humans. In light of his decision to remain with the Houyhnhnms, it is possible that his wanderlust has been based on a desire to escape from a society he believes is less than ideal. The Houyhnhnms' society lacks any of the social ills that plague England, in Gulliver's view, and he believes he is a better person living among these horses. Both Gulliver and his master seem to believe that Gulliver is superior to the Yahoos of the island and, by extension, the Yahoos of Europe, so it stands to reason that Gulliver would want to remain in this society that treats him with such respect and hospitality, reflecting ideals he has been unable to find elsewhere.

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