" Red-haired of both Sexes are more libidinous and mischievous than the rest, whom yet they much exceed in Strength and Activity "
In the UK red hair
is generally associated with people of Celtic descent, i.e Scotland and Ireland. It is believed the people of Scotland came from 5 different ethnic groups who occupied or invaded northern Britain in the dark ages. In all of recorded history, red-haired people have never been mentioned as a group except by the Romans.
The 'Picts' where foes who the Romans fought and were described as having red-hair and 'large limbs' by Roman historian Tacitus. Modern historians with the help of anthropologists have placed red-hair as a unique characteristic belonging to the Picts, who were characteristic to what is now regarded as Scottish.
Either Swift is denigrating the Scottish since they have had, historically, red hair. Or he is bragging because he is Irish and they are included in the "red-haired" classification.
" thought it monstrous in us to give the Females a different Kind of Education from the Males "
This is Swift's one nod to the possiblity that women might be the equal to men as far as education and mental capability. Although being a creature of his times, he still maintains that "Domestick Management" is solely the domain of women.
" degenerating by Degrees "
The doctrine of evolution by degeneration is, once again, a bit of foresight on the part of Swift. Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (7 September 1707 – 16 April 1788) was a French naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopedic author. Some decades after Gulliver's Travels was published, he suggested this in detail. He theory was that an ape was a degenerated man, a donkey a degenerated horse, and so on.
" I supplied it with the Skins of Yahoos "
Skins - Credit: Kuerschner
This is the first of several passages that refer to Gulliver trapping, and skinning the Yahoos. He is totally alienated from himself, having associated his mental paradigm with the Houyhnhnms, and alienated from the Yahoos which are a reflection of the worst of humanity and therefore the worst in himself. With ease, he wears Yahoo skins.
The dicotomy of Gulliver coming to associate himself with the Houyhnhnms is that by skinning a creature very much like him, a human, would be a very Yahoo-like thing to do and the Houyhnhnms would despise him for the action.
" I am apt to fall into the Voice and manner of the Houyhnhnms "
When Gulliver returned from the lands where he felt superior to the inhabitants, Lilliput or Laputa, he readily readjusted to English life. When he returned from lands where he felt inferior to the inhabitants, he identified with
Gulliver with Houyhnhnms
them, and had trouble becoming an ordinary Englishman again. This happened after his return from Brobdingnag. It happens again upon his expulsion from the land of the Houyhnhnms.
His detestation of himself and his effort to become a Houyhnhnm were so intense and continued for so long, even after his return, that he had gone mad with frustration over his inability to transform himself into a completely rational horse, or in human terms, the completely passion-less, completely rational person.
Interestingly, this story-line of the struggle between emotions and rationality is still current with the character Spock in the television series Star Trek.