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Gulliver’s Travels

Jonathan Swift

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 5

My Reconcilement to the Yahoo-kind in general might not be so difficult, if they would be content with those Vices and Follies only which Nature hath entitled them to. I am not in the least provoked at the Sight of a Lawyer, a Pick-pocket, a Colonel. . . . This is all according to the due Course of Things: But, when I behold a Lump of Deformity, and Diseases both in Body and Mind, smitten with Pride, it immediately breaks all the Measures of my Patience; neither shall I ever be able to comprehend how such an Animal and such a Vice could tally together.

This quotation comes from the end of the narrative, in Part IV, Chapter XII, when Gulliver describes the difficulties he has had in readjusting to his own human culture. He now associates English and European culture with the Yahoos, though the hypocrisy he describes is not a Yahoo characteristic. By attributing a number of sins to “the due Course of Things,” Gulliver expresses his new conviction that humanity is, as the Houyhnhnms believe, corrupt and ungovernable at heart. Humans are nothing more than beasts equipped with only enough reason to make their corruption dangerous. But even worse than that, he says, is the inability of humanity to see its own failings, to recognize its depravity behind its false nobility.

Gulliver’s apparent exemption of himself from this charge against humanity—referring to “such an Animal” rather than to humans, may be yet another moment of denial. In fact, he is guilty of the same hypocrisy he condemns, showing himself unaware of his own human flaws several times throughout his travels. He is a toady toward royalty in Lilliput and Brobdingnag, indifferent toward those in misery and pain when visiting the Yahoos, and ungrateful toward the kindness of strangers with the Portuguese captain, Don Pedro. Gulliver’s difficulty in including himself among the humans he describes as vice-ridden animals is symbolic of the identity crisis he undergoes at the end of the novel, even if he is unaware of it.