The author, Jerome K. Jerome, was born in Walsall, Staffordshire, England, on 2nd May 1859. His early upbringing was done in London and he studied in Marylebone Grammar School at the age of 15, he lost both his parents and had to take up a job as a railway clerk. Later on he took up different vocations- school teacher, actor, journalist. In 1888 he married Georgina Henrietta Stanley. His first publication was ‘Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow’, followed by the famous ‘Three Men in a Boat’. He became famous both as a playwright and novelist.
He also served in the French Red Cross during the First World War before his death on 14th June 1927. The theme The complete novel is based upon a boat-trip taken by three friends down the river Thames from Kingston to Oxford. I believe that it was supposed to be a travelogue but it turned out to be a hilarious account of a journey. The story turns out to be humorous due to the brief anecdotes given by the author of previous incidences, the three friends’ behaviors and the occasional humorous uplift given by the author’s dog. The plot The story begins by introducing George, Harris, Jerome and Montmorency, a fox-terrier.
The men are spending an evening in Jerome’s room, smoking and discussing illnesses they fancy they suffer from. They conclude they are all suffering from ‘overwork’ and need a holiday. A stay in the country and a sea trip are both considered, then rejected (J. describes the bad experiences had by his brother-in-law and a friend on sea trips). Eventually, the three decide on a boating holiday, up the River Thames, from Kingston upon Thames to Oxford, during which they’ll camp, notwithstanding Jerome’s anecdotes regarding previous experiences with tents and camping stoves.
They embark the following Saturday. George must go to work that morning (“George goes to sleep at a bank from ten to four each day, except Saturdays, when they wake him up and put him outside at two”) so Jerome and Harris make their way to Kingston by train. They are unable to find the correct train at Waterloo Station so they bribe a train driver to take his train to Kingston, where they collect their hired boat and start their journey. They meet George later, up-river at Weybridge. The remainder of the story relates their river journey and the incidents that occur.
The book ‘s original purpose as a guidebook is apparent as the narrator describes the passing landmarks and villages such as Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Church, Monkey Island, Magna Carta Island and Marlow, and muses upon historical associations of these places. However, he frequently digresses into funny anecdotes that range from the unreliability of barometers for weather forecasting to the difficulties that may be encountered when learning to play the Scottish bagpipe. The most frequent topics are river pastimes such as fishing and boating and the difficulties they present to the inexperienced and unwary.
Character Sketches George- George is one of the two friends of the author and is a bank clerk by profession. He is an incredibly lazy and sluggish person and according to the author, George is very much able to take a nap at anytime, anywhere. He is not among the brightest of people and even his friends tend to think so. They are really taken for by surprise when George makes the sensible suggestion of taking the river trip. He always tries to grab an opportunity ofnot doing a particular work which shows his reluctance to work and determination to escape out of it. Harris-
Harris is a vain fellow who pretends to be extremely hard working but usually pushes off the burden on other people. He is outspoken and does not hesitate to tell his friends what he thinks about them even if it may not be pleasant. For instance he outwardly tells George that his new blazer is utterly revolting and that he must not wear it around them (Harris and Jim). When Harris takes on a job he makes a huge fuss out of it like the narrator’s uncle Podger. It may not be anything majorly important but if Harris is going to do it; the world is surely going to know about it.
He also thinks very highly of himself and his voice though his friends do not want him to even attempt singing. He is extremely fascinated by tombs and graveyards much to the author’s amazement and dislike. He is also quite short tempered and it is best to let him rant off his anger rather than try and talk to him about it. He would not mind a drink at any time of the day and enjoys the company of his friends. Jerome- Jerome is the narrator of the book. He is a young, single middle-class man living in London.
He is fond of history and literature and spends much of his time daydreaming about the days when knights roamed the countryside of England. This daydreaming sometimes gets him into trouble when he does not pay suitable attention to what he is doing. Jerome, like his two friends on the boat trip, is a little vain and conceited, but he realizes it and pokes gentle fun at himself, his friends, and the habits of others like them through his anecdotes, where he and his friends are often the butt of ego-skewering jokes. Jerome has always been fond of boats, but prefers the old fashioned.
The author (Jerome) quite often becomes philosophical and the draws comparisons between their journey and the journey of our life. Therefore we can conclude that he even has a romantic and poetic nature. Montmorency- Montmorency is the author’s dog that accompanied by him, George and Harris in their river trip. Montmorency looked like an angel sent to Earth in the form of a small Fox Terrier. He had a gentle noble expression which brought tears to the eyes of elderly folk. When Montmorency first arrived, the author thought that he would not live long.
But, he soon changed his opinion about Montmorency when his true nature was exposed. The author had to pay for chickens Montmorency had killed and had to drag him out of hundreds of street fights. Once Montmorency killed the neighbours’ cat and on one occasion he had kept a man stuck in his own tool shed for about two hours. The author’s gardener made money by betting on Montmorency’s rat-killing skills. He liked to roam around and fight with dogs of a similar disreputable nature. Therefore, he enjoyed places like inns and pubs but not places such as damp boats and scenic places.