Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels

The Houyhnhnms Character Analysis

Rational, peaceful, generous, and civilized horses, the Houyhnhnms are ideal beings (at least from Gulliver’s perspective). They are so honest and virtuous that they don’t even have words for things like “evil” and “falsehood.” They live content in their egalitarian and placid society troubled only by the question of how to constrain the Yahoos that live among them.

The Houyhnhnms Quotes in Gulliver's Travels

The Gulliver's Travels quotes below are all either spoken by The Houyhnhnms or refer to The Houyhnhnms. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Perspective Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Gulliver's Travels published in 2003.
Book 4, Chapter 4 Quotes

Power, government, war, law, punishment, and a thousand other things, had no terms wherein that language could express them…

Related Characters: Lemuel Gulliver (speaker), The Houyhnhnms
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderitLorem Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Gulliver's Travels quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Book 4, Chapter 12 Quotes

I here take a final leave of all my courteous readers…to apply those excellent lessons of virtue which I learned among the Houyhnhmns; to instruct the Yahoos of my own family, is far as I shall find them docible animals; to behold my figure often in a glass, and thus, if possible, habituate myself by time to tolerate the sight of a human creatures…

Related Characters: Lemuel Gulliver (speaker), The Houyhnhnms, The Yahoos
Page Number: 270
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident,

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Get the entire Gulliver's Travels LitChart as a printable PDF.
Gulliver s travels.pdf.medium

The Houyhnhnms Character Timeline in Gulliver's Travels

The timeline below shows where the character The Houyhnhnms appears in Gulliver's Travels. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Preface 2: “A Letter from Captain Gulliver to his Cousin Sympson”
Perspective Theme Icon
Truth and Deception Theme Icon
...says he respects the Queen, he insists he never would have praised her to the Houyhnhnms). He complains, too, that Sympson has muddled the details of his sea travel. He calls... (full context)
Perspective Theme Icon
Truth and Deception Theme Icon
...Gulliver refers to human beings as Yahoos and laments the perverse world in which degenerate Houyhnhnms are enslaved by Yahoos. Though Gulliver acknowledges that he, too, is a Yahoo, he notes... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 1
Perspective Theme Icon
...Yahoo, which he repeats. The horses are impressed and try to teach him the word Houyhnhnm. The horses depart, one beckoning Gulliver to follow him. (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 3
Perspective Theme Icon
Society and the State Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Truth and Deception Theme Icon
Gulliver proceeds to study the Houyhnhnm’s language under the tutelage of the master horse, a kind and patient teacher who marvels... (full context)
Perspective Theme Icon
Truth and Deception Theme Icon
The Houyhnhnms continue to think that Gulliver’s clothes are a part of his body and Gulliver takes... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 4
Society and the State Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Truth and Deception Theme Icon
...on his last voyage. The master horse has no concept of crime or vice and the Houyhnhmns’ language has no terms for “power, government, war, law, punishment” and many other such things.... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 7
Perspective Theme Icon
Society and the State Theme Icon
Truth and Deception Theme Icon
...justifies his grim portrait of humankind to the reader, explaining that his time among the Houyhnhnms had opened his eyes to the evils of human nature and human society and that... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 8
Perspective Theme Icon
Society and the State Theme Icon
Gulliver explains that, among the Houyhnhmns , the Yahoos are kept in kennels, sent to dig up roots and catch small... (full context)
Moral vs. Physical Power Theme Icon
Society and the State Theme Icon
Gulliver goes on to describe the ways of the Houyhnhnms. Their reason is so perfect and absolute that they never have disagreements or differences of... (full context)
Society and the State Theme Icon
The Houyhnhnms practice family planning so that each marriage is arranged by family and friends of a... (full context)
Society and the State Theme Icon
The Houyhnhnms’ children are educated in “temperance, industry, exercise…cleanliness,” “strength, speed, and hardiness,” and both genders receive... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 9
Perspective Theme Icon
Society and the State Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Gulliver recounts the proceedings of one of the Houyhnhnms’ councils as relayed to him by the master horse. The council debated the question “whether... (full context)
Society and the State Theme Icon
Knowledge Theme Icon
Gulliver proceeds to detail more of the Houyhnhmns cultural features. They make excellent wound dressings; they make good practical use of astronomy; they... (full context)
Society and the State Theme Icon
Gulliver explains that the Houyhnhnms have no words for evil and thus, to express anything bad, they “borrow from the... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 10
Perspective Theme Icon
Gulliver explains that, although he didn’t feel so fond of the Houyhnhmns when he first arrived among them, the more he learned from and about them, the... (full context)
Perspective Theme Icon
One day, the master horse sends for Gulliver and explains that, at the council, the Houyhnhnms had confirmed that it wasn’t right for him to live with Gulliver, a Yahoo, and... (full context)
Perspective Theme Icon
Truth and Deception Theme Icon
...Gulliver explains that, “if these censurers” only knew “the noble and courteous disposition of the Houyhnhnms, they would soon change their opinion.” (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 12
Perspective Theme Icon
Moral vs. Physical Power Theme Icon
Society and the State Theme Icon
...and that humans would be no match for the Brobdingnagans, the Laputians’ floating island, or the Houyhnhmns’ hooves and strength. Then he adds that he actually had another reason for not conquering... (full context)
Perspective Theme Icon
Moral vs. Physical Power Theme Icon
Society and the State Theme Icon
Truth and Deception Theme Icon
...he really can’t stand. He points out that pride is a foreign concept to the Houyhnhnms and they “are no more proud of the good qualities they possess” than Gulliver is... (full context)