Gulliver's Travels By Jonathan Swift Summary and Analysis Part IV: Chapter 11

Summary

Gulliver sails to a nearby island where he is attacked by naked savages and forced to flee in his canoe back into the sea. Having nowhere else to go, he returns to another part of that same island. Coincidentally, a passing Portuguese ship sends a longboat to the island for water, and the sailors discover Gulliver. Gulliver trembles in fear but speaks to the sailors in their own language, with neighing intonations. He is horrified to be a prisoner of the Yahoos. Yet the captain of the ship, Pedro de Mendez, is kind. Gulliver is returned to Lisbon where Pedro de Mendez does all that he can to make Gulliver comfortable. Eventually, Don Pedro convinces Gulliver to return to his home in England.

Gulliver is happily received by his family (for they think that he is dead), but the reunion is a disaster for Gulliver: He cannot bear the sight or smell of his Yahoo-like wife and children. It is only after some time that he can bear to eat with them. To restore his mind, he spends much time in the stable.

Analysis

In Chapter 10, Swift has shown us Gulliver's fierce pride separating him from the Yahoos. He now shows this pride separating Gulliver from his own kind of (European) Yahoo. The savages who shoot arrows at Gulliver are, morally, somewhere between the depraved Yahoos and Pedro de Mendez. Mendez is a good and charitable man. He is not a rationalist stoic or a Deist filled with theories about the exalted dignity and natural benevolence of human nature. Yet Gulliver has lost his ability to evaluate; he treats Mendez as though the captain were merely a Yahoo. Mendez is a true Christian and shows the Christian virtue of charity. But blind to common sense, Gulliver cannot believe that a Yahoo can show virtue.

Swift has now concluded his illustration on humans' basic nature. Gulliver could not make himself a horse. He is not innocent or rational. He is, by nature, a Yahoo. But, as a European Yahoo, Gulliver should use his driblet of reason to improve himself; instead, he uses his reason to magnify his worst vice: his pride. Gulliver's pride has swelled out of all proportion; he has "reasoned" himself into rejecting his species and his nature: Gulliver is virtually a madman. His attitudes when he arrives in London make him a source of derision, for Gulliver seeks to change his basic nature by thinking; reason becomes the sole guide of his life.

Glossary

naturally arched by the force of tempests the island had been shaped by the force of winds.

veracity habitual truthfulness; honesty.

Inquisition the general tribunal established in the thirteenth century by the Roman Catholic Church for the discovery and prevention of heresy and the punishment of heretics; here, meaning that Gulliver felt that if the society to which he was returning learned about where he had been and what he had seen and learned, then he would risk being treated like a heretic.

Lisbon the capital of Portugal.

accoutred outfitted; equipped.

recluse a person who lives a secluded, solitary life; the kind of life hoped for by Gulliver at this time.

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Gulliver’s visit to Lilliput allows Swift to satirize what sort of rulers?




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