Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels Book 4, Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When the master horse expresses bafflement as to why lawyers would engage in such loathsome work, Gulliver tries to explain the concept of money and the human thirst for it. This leads to a description of what kinds of things money can acquire, which leads Gulliver to explain England’s huge trade in foreign food and drink, despite the fact that England’s own soil is capable of producing enough food to feed its entire population.
Again, the master horse’s ignorance of greed—both for money and for food/goods—indicates the virtuous character of Houyhnhmn society in comparison to European society.
Themes
Society and the State Theme Icon
Gulliver goes on to describe statesmen, explaining that the chief minister of state is a person completely consumed by his hunger for power and thoroughly dishonest. Thus, the people around him always believe exactly the opposite of what the chief of state says. The chief of state rises to his position either by murdering female relatives, betraying his predecessor, or by lambasting “the corruptions of the court.” The chiefs of state control their councils through bribery and every member of court learns “insolence, lying, and bribery.”
Gulliver continues to portray the European state as a corrupt, immoral institution whose members grasp power by immoral means and retain that power through lies and deception. He has adopted the Houyhnhnm perspective.
Themes
Moral vs. Physical Power Theme Icon
Society and the State Theme Icon
Truth and Deception Theme Icon
When the master horse remarks that Gulliver’s superior appearance to the Yahoos of the Houyhnhnms must bespeak his nobility. Gulliver corrects this impression, explaining that, in Europe, all nobles look sick, sallow, and weak because they are raised “in idleness and luxury” and debauchery. Thus, in Europe, “a healthy robust appearance” always signifies a low birth like Gulliver’s.
The master horse, accustomed to his honest society, assumes that noble appearances indicate noble essences. Yet Gulliver, well versed in his own society’s lies and deceit, knows that appearances can perversely contradict essences.
Themes
Perspective Theme Icon
Moral vs. Physical Power Theme Icon
Society and the State Theme Icon
Truth and Deception Theme Icon