Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 4 Chapter 3

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Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 4 Chapter 3

Summary of Gulliver’s Travels Part 4 Chapter 3

The narrator studies to learn the language. The Houyhnhnm, his master, assists in teaching him. The language is described. Several Houyhnhnms of quality come, out of curiosity, to see the narrator. He gives his master a short account of his voyage. Gulliver spent most of his early days in the land of the Houyhnhnms endeavouring to leam the language of the horses, with the help of the sorrel nag and the grey horse and his children. Adept at languages, Gulliver learnt, rather quickly, to talk with the Houyhnhnms. Gulliver felt that the Houyhnhnm language sounded a lot like High-Dutch or German, but was more ‘graceful.’

Besides the Houyhnhnms teaching Gulliver, he too taught them. They had no books, so Gulliver showed them how to write. The Houyhnhnms were truly mystified by their visitor; he seemed to be so much like a Yahoo, but also seemed to be rational—a combination which they believed to be impossible. Gulliver’s host was very impressed with him and wondered how Gulliver was taught to imitate a rational creature. In his experience, Yahoos were ‘the most unteachable of all brutes.’ Ironically, though Gulliver might be impressive to the Houyhnhnms, he still hadn’t convinced them that he wasn’t a Yahoo.

After three months, he could answer most of their questions, and tried to explain that he came from across the sea, but the horses, or Houyhnhnms, did not believe that such a thing Was possible. They thought that Gulliver was some kind of Yahoo, though superior to the rest of his species. He asked them to stop using that word to refer to him, and they consented. They were impressed by his intellect and curiosity. Gulliver discovered that, in their language, ‘Houyhnhnm’ meant both horse and ‘perfection of nature.’ Many Houynhnhnms came to see Gulliver, staring in wonder at a Yahoo who seemed to possess reason.

The Houynhnhnms had thought Gulliver was a different kind of Yahoo as they thought his clothes were his skin. But one night, as Gulliver was getting ready for bed, the sorrel nag saw him. He thought that Gulliver changed skins as he slept. Gulliver had been trying to cover up the fact that underneath his clothes, he really was like the other Yahoos, but he realised he could not keep the secret much longer as his clothes and shoes would soon wear out, and would need to be supplied by some contrivance from the hides of Yahoos, or other brutes.

So Gulliver explained to Gulliver’s Master Horse that in the country where Gulliver came from, his people always covered their bodies with the hairs of certain animals to avoid the bad weather, both hot and cold. He removed his coat, waistcoat and shirt and Gulliver’s Master Horse was impressed by how different Gulliver was from the other Yahoos, because his skin was pale, soft, and relatively hairless.

Gulliver asked his Master to stop calling him a Yahoo and to keep the secret of his clothes. The Master agreed. He told Gulliver to learn the Houyhnhnm language with utmost diligence so that he could ask Gulliver more questions. Gulliver was finally able to tell Gulliver’s Master Horse that he had arrived at his island in a ship made by men and sailed by men, that he was set ashore thanks to an argument between men. Gulliver’s Master asked how the Houyhnhnms of Gulliver’s country allowed a ship to be sailed by brutes.

Gulliver made his master promise not to get angry, and then he explained that, in his country, the Houyhnhnms were the brutes and the men were the reasonable beings.