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Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 4 Chapter 4

Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 4 Chapter 4

The Houyhnhnm’s notion of truth and falsehood. The narrator’s discourse disapproved by his master. The narrator gives a more particular account of himself, and the accidents of his voyage.

Gulliver and his master continued their discussion of concepts that were difficult for his master to comprehend—especially those related to lying and doing evil. Gulliver said he had occasion to talk of ‘lying’ and ‘false representation,’ both of which his master had great difficulty understanding. There were no words for ‘lying’ and ‘doubt’ in the Houyhnhnm language. The Houyhnhnm said that lying defeated the very purpose of language, which was to make the speakers understand one another. Gulliver tried to explain that the Yahoos were the governing creatures where he came from, and the Houyhnhnms asked how their horses were employed.

He told his master about the poor treatment horses often received, as work animals, in his home country. Gulliver explained that they were used for travelling, racing, and drawing chariots. Gulliver’s master was utterly disgusted to hear that Yahoos rode Houyhnhnms where Gulliver came from. The Houyhnhnms expressed disbelief that anything as weak as a Yahoo would dare to mount a horse that was so much stronger than it. Though Gulliver’s master continued to be outraged, he admitted that, if horses in Gulliver’s country were stupid, then it made sense that the Yahoos won out, because reason beat strength every time.

Gulliver’s master inquired if the Yahoos in Gulliver’s country were more like Gulliver or like the Yahoos of the Houyhnhnm Land. When Gulliver answered that they were more like him, Gulliver’s master actually thought that it was something of a disadvantage. Sure, they were better-looking than the Yahoos of Houyhnhnm, but they were physically weaker and less suited to survival. It took Gulliver a long time to explain to his Master about his own origins, because there were no words in Houyhnhnm language for things like deception, power, wealth, lust, or envy.

Gulliver explained that the horses were trained from a young age to be tame and obedient. He described the state of humanity in Europe and was asked to speak more specifically of his own country.