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Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels


by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver's Travels Gender Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #7

In their marriages, they are exactly careful to choose such colours as will not make any disagreeable mixture in the breed. Strength is chiefly valued in the male, and comeliness in the female; not upon the account of love, but to preserve the race from degenerating; for where a female happens to excel in strength, a consort is chosen, with regard to comeliness. (4.8.12)

The Houyhnhnms arrange marriages for their children to "preserve the race from degenerating." Why might the Houyhnhnms view reason as incompatible with love? Are the two things in fact irreconcilable?

Quote #8

Temperance, industry, exercise, and cleanliness, are the lessons equally enjoined to the young ones of both sexes: and my master thought it monstrous in us, to give the females a different kind of education from the males, except in some articles of domestic management; whereby, as he truly observed, one half of our natives were good for nothing but bringing children into the world; and to trust the care of our children to such useless animals, he said, was yet a greater instance of brutality. (4.8.14)

See how similar this model of equal education for the sexes is in both Lilliput and Houyhnhnm Land? But the reason the Lilliputians seem to educate girls is to make them suitable wives, so that they can chat happily with their husbands "because she cannot always be young" (1.6.15) (ick). The Houyhnhnms educate girls to make them better, wiser mothers.

Quote #9

As soon as I entered the house, my wife took me in her arms, and kissed me; at which, having not been used to the touch of that odious animal for so many years, I fell into a swoon for almost an hour. At the time I am writing, it is five years since my last return to England. During the first year, I could not endure my wife or children in my presence; the very smell of them was intolerable; much less could I suffer them to eat in the same room. (4.11.18)

(Why does Gulliver's wife put up with this crap?) So, when Gulliver gets back from Houyhnhnm Land and his wife hugs him, he faints because he is so unused to being so close to such a disgusting animal as a Yahoo. Are there any positive examples of human family life in this novel? Why or why not?

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