Swift’s Satirical Technique in the Book IV of Gulliver’s Travels
The Book IV of Gulliver’s Travels is one of the most savage and terrible indictments of mankind. The clarity and force of Swift’s style are everywhere apparent. In Gulliver, he exposes intense hatred of mankind, such hatred is nothing but the reverse side of love. The degradation, the vileness which Swift ascribes to man could not have been conceived but, as the corruption of noble qualities.
Swift proceeds in the 4th book of Gulliver’s Travels to vilify the debasement of the corporeal part of human nature. The story of Gulliver’s final voyage is of increasing alienation from the traditional sources of human beliefs. In the course of events which lead ultimately to the destruction of every principle by which Gulliver has conducted his life, the perfidy of his piratical shipmates’ forms. Furthermore, it embodies an incident which is entirely compatible with the realities of the 18th country life. The themes of the belated myth the discovery of human villainy, of rejection and of solitude are subsequently elaborated on the burl of myth.
In the 4th book, Gulliver’s vision is two-folded. It devalues the glory of a totally unattainable excellence and the wretchedness of an inescapable heritage. If the story of the fourth voyage falls somewhat short of true tragic stature it is doubtless because Gulliver is so entirely a victim of forces, over which he has very little opportunity for the kind of choice from which the most powerfully tragic actions traditionally proceed.
Though Gulliver tends to forget that the Houyhnhnms, after all, are horses, Swift is in pain to remind the reader of the fact. Consequently, he never entirely chases Gulliver’s fatuous admirations of his masters. The symbolic meaning of the Houyhnhnms, their perfection or imperfection, the faculties they exemplify and those they lack are questions which can be argued definitely. But for the purpose of the narrative itself, their role is entirely clear in this light, they are not problems, but, on the contrary, brilliantly conceived creations in an imaginary universe.
Swift makes clear that the possession and profitable employment of reason of horses elevate them infinitely with above the Yahoos who lack it all together, who has been endowed and man has abused the vestige of it. In this role, they are seized on by the disillusioned and dispossessed Gulliver. In this rate too, they reflect him in a gesture calculated to disclose the final, terrible fact that his humanity is inescapable. The 4th voyage is an expression of Swift’s own misanthropy. Swift has embodied his views in the magnificently shocking story of how Gulliver became a misanthrope. Swift displays in the voyage to the Houyhnhnms his high mastery of the art of the story-teller by which satire can transcend the ephemeral character of argument and exposure.
As pure narrative and philosophical myth, the voyage to the Houyhnhnms is indeed climatic but climatic largely by virtue of its contrast to the voyages which have preceded it. A fundamental doctrine, a philosophic attitude towards universal problems, is developed centrally and systematically in the Travels. Gulliver’s critical discoveries in the fourth voyage are indicated briefly throughout the earlier books. The myth of the Houyhnhnms and Yahoos is designed to make the readers conscious of slacking and uncomfortable new awareness.
The first and foremost arresting of the discoveries in Gulliver’s shocking recognition that man in his brute nakedness is indeed a yahoo. The actual corruption is the ugliness of man vainly disguised by civilized artifice and his animal ponders merely by “refinements”. The second discovery emerges largely in Gulliver’s dialogues with the Houyhnhnms master. It is simply that those systems such as law, military, science, government, breeding, medicine and the rest which are regarded as the hallmarks of civilization representing the “institutionalizing”, the elaboration of our animal inclinations towards hatred, avarice, and sensuality.
Gulliver’s task is to implant not an affirmative conviction but an agonizing awareness of inadequacy and false pride within the minds of his audience. The superiority of swift’s primary commitment is to comprehensive, mythic statement of moral reality. His satiric ‘bitterness’ can also be related to another aspect of the Houyhnhnms myth- that is the final expression of indignation against pride as the human sin to which alone, Gulliver cannot reconcile himself.
In the fourth voyage, corrosive satire becomes deep and merciless. In this part of the book, the novelist divides human nature into two parts. We attribute reason and benevolence to the Houyhnhnms, while the Yahoos are depicted as were brutes with selfish appetites.
Gulliver’s Travels is a satiric masterpiece in which Swift exposes human follies, absurdities and the consequences of human irrationality. There is a preponderance of evil in human beings who largely ignore the dictates of reason and follow their evil impulses. All that Swift has done is to expose the evil side of men and to stimulate human being to develop their rational faculties.