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 humankind. The clarity and force of Swift’s style are everywhere apparent in this book. 

In Gulliver’s Travels, Swift exposes intense hatred of humankind. Such hatred is nothing but the reverse side of love. The degradation, Swift’s vileness to man, could not have been conceived but as the corruption of noble qualities.

The satire in Gulliver’s Travels Book 4 is considered the most shattering as Swift masterfully exposes his rejection towards humankind. Swift criticizes the 18th-century British conflict of moral principles, as the British ruling exploited their people and the neighboring countrymen through the course of capitalism.

Swift’s Address Towards a Universal Problem

As pure narrative and philosophical myth, the voyage to the Houyhnhnms is climatic but mainly in contrast to the expeditions that have preceded it. Gulliver’s Travels developed centrally and systematically a fundamental doctrine, a philosophical attitude towards universal problems.

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.

Yahoo: The Savage Creatures vs. Houyhnhnms: The Rational Beings

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 primarily 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, are regarded as the hallmarks of civilization. They represent the “institutionalizing,” the elaboration of our animal inclinations towards hatred, avarice, and sensuality.

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 that can be argued definitely. 

However, for the narrative itself, Houyhnhnms’ role is entirely clear in this light; they are not problems but, on the contrary, brilliantly conceived creations in an imaginary universe.

Swift clarifies that the possession and profitable employment of reason of horses elevate them infinitely above the Yahoos who lack it altogether, who have been endowed. 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. 

Symbolic Representation of the Animalistic Elements of Human Nature

Swift proceeds in the 4th book of Gulliver’s Travels to vilify the debasement of the bodily part of human nature. The events ultimately lead 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 that is entirely compatible with the realities of 18th country life. The themes of the belated myth, the discovery of human villainy, rejection, and solitude are subsequently elaborated in the burl of myth.

Gulliver’s Alienation from the Human Race

In the 4th book, Gulliver’s vision is two-folded. It devalues the glory of totally unattainable excellence and the wretchedness of an inescapable heritage. The story of Gulliver’s final voyage is of increasing alienation from the traditional sources of human beliefs. 

Suppose the story of the fourth voyage falls somewhat short of true tragic stature. In that case, it is doubtless because Gulliver is so entirely a victim of forces, over which he has a minimal opportunity for the kind of choice from which the most powerfully tragic actions traditionally proceed.

Swift’s Violent Rejection of Humankind

The 4th voyage is an expression of Swift’s misanthropy. Swift has shared 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-telling by which satire can transcend the ephemeral character of argument and exposure.

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 a 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 resentment 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. He attributes reasoning and benevolence to the Houyhnhnms, while he depicted Yahoos as 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 expose men’s evil side and stimulate human beings to develop their rational faculties.

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