Gulliver's Travels: Part 4 - Plot Summary

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Term II, Chapter IV

A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms

Plot Summary

      The author has only spent about five months with his family when he gets an amazing offer to be the captain of a merchant ship. Being weary of working as a surgeon, he readily accepts the offer. Unfortunately, many of his crewmen die of disease during the voyage. To make up for the loss, the author recruits some men from Barbadoes and Leeward Islands. As luck would have it, most of these new recruits are pirates who capture the ship and force the author to land on an unknown island with only some meagre provisions and clothes. The author is astonished to discover that Houyhnhnms or horses are the presiding species of that land while Yahoos or human beings are held in servitude. The Houyhnhnms are equally astonished to see the author, a refined, well-behaved and rational Yahoo. They cannot imagine that a Yahoo can be so civilized as the author. The author spends almost five years in the land of the Houyhnhnms under the guidance of a gray horse whom he calls his master. Another Houyhnhnm, whom the author calls sorrel nag, is also quite tender towards him. The gentleness, simplicity, benevolence, rationality and wisdom of these creatures impress the author so much that he begins to abhor his own species for its corruption and hypocrisy; The author finds stark similarities between the crude nature of the Yahoos and the refined nature of human beings. To cleanse himself of human vices, the author very sincerely endeavors to adopt the virtues of the Houyhnhnms. Living happily and contentedly among these gentle Houyhnhnms, the author spends more than three years in perfect health and peace of mind. This tranquil and happy state comes to an end when the other Houyhnhnms object to the author being treated differently from other Yahoos and almost at par with the Houyhnhnms. Thus the author is ordered to leave their land. He leaves the island with a heavy heart and plans to live the rest of his life on some desolate island to avoid the company of corrupt European Yahoos. The author spends four days on an island in New Holland where he is found out by some Portuguese seamen who forcibly take him to their ship on the orders of their captain. The captain treats him with utmost kindness, concern and patience and finally succeeds in persuading him to return to his family. After returning home, the author does not let anyone come near him for one year and buys two horses whom he treats with deep affection and friendship.

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