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In this chapter the Gulliver who wrote the letter to Richard Sympson surfaces. On his way home Gulliver is rescued by a Portuguese ship. Hearing human talk for the first time in a long while, Gulliver describes it as "monstrous." Gulliver has obviously been deeply traumatized by his stay with the Houyhnhnms, and his conduct is as much Houyhnhnm as human. The captain of the ship, Pedro de Mendez, is exceedingly gentle and kind to Gulliver, and even pays his way from Lisbon to England. Yet Gulliver says he had to try hard to "conceal [his] antipathy to human kind, although it often broke out." Even this the captain pretended to not notice.

When he sees his family Gulliver is filled with "hatred, disgust, and contempt." He is horrified that he's ever had sexual relations with these Yahoos. As soon as his wife embraces him (he's been gone five years) he faints, overcome with revulsion.

He can't abide the smell or sight of his wife and children, refuses to eat in the same room with them, and won't allow them to touch him or his food. He immediately buys some horses, and spends most of his time in the stable "conversing" with them.


Clearly Gulliver is mad. Do you think it's because he had a glimpse of perfection (as represented by the Houyhnhnms) and realized he could never attain it? Or is it that he hasn't been able to come to terms with what it means to be human, that he is "only human"?


Gulliver makes a point of stressing the truth in all that he has recounted of his voyages. In so doing he compares himself to Sinon, an ancient Roman famous for being a liar. Remember that Swift has throughout this book given "proof" of incidents and places. Here he's calling attention to the fact that this work is fictional. This presents us with a conflict (and an excellent point to raise if you're arguing that Gulliver is not Swift): Gulliver's work, to his twisted mind, is true; yet Swift's is fiction.

Gulliver says that he writes for "the noblest end, to inform and instruct mankind...." He's fit
for the task because his exposure to the Houyhnhnms has rendered him "superior" to his fellows.

He's trying to readjust to life among his Yahoo family. He now allows his wife to eat with him, though he still keeps his nostrils stuffed with lavender or tobacco so as not to be bothered by the smell. He even forces himself to look in a mirror every day to get used to his human face and those of the people around him.

Gulliver ends with an exhortation against pride. How ironic, for Gulliver has proved himself exceedingly proud.

This is a particularly brilliant device. Swift uses Gulliver to express his feelings about the sinfulness of pride, yet Gulliver can't live up to Swift's exhortation.

Gulliver isn't the only one to have had a long journey. So have we.

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