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Satire In Gulliver's Travels

            Jonathan Swift's standard satirical technique of irony is best exemplified with the use of vivid, nameless descriptions. In Gulliver's Travels, Swift sets out describing something, neglecting to bestow a name on it, purposefully trying to create a vivid picture in your head. Once his description reaches its apex, and you truly believe you know what he is talking about, he names it something completely different. A perfect illustration of this is seen when the Yahoos are first being introduced in chapter 1. Swift writes, "Their heads and breasts were covered with a thick hair they had beards like goats, and a long ridge of hair down their backs, and the foreparts of their legs and feet ."" His vivid description continues on, further cementing a picture in your head of a wild, repugnant animal. In a pure ironic fashion, he waits until the middle of chapter 2 to let you know that this detestable animal most resembles a human being. Another depiction of this technique can be found in chapter 12, when he writes about inhabitants of a land being massacred by groups of men looking for their gold and jewels. You are led to believe he is talking about ruthless men, pirates for example, but you soon find out he is describing the divine act of colonialism. Swift's use of irony is highly affective as a means to a satiric end, because of its shock effect. He takes mankind's virtues, like the moral excellence we attach to our governmental practices, and turns them into vices. He causes you to stop, examine, and rethink all your old assumptions.
             For further debunking of man's vices and follies, Swift turns to the fantastic Yahoos and Houyhnhnms. He use these two characters, each positioned completely on opposite ends of the rational spectrum, as a means for showing the fault of man when he is governed by either pure emotion or pure reason. The Yahoos, although human in form, are savage animals in character; they serve as a depiction of what can become of man when he is devoid of all reason.

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