In this essay an attempt is made to discern the important themes that one can observe in the book “Three Men in a Boat” written by Jerome K Jerome. This book written by Jerome K Jerome became extremely popular among the English readers. One reason for this popularity was its different and new way of representation which differed from the books written by authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Cannon Doyle, Rudyard Kipling and other popular authors. This popularity perhaps was due to the use of different themes and style of language that one can see in the case of this book.
Firstly, the language used in this book was the language spoken by the common masses which perhaps attracted the common people to read this book leading to its popularity although the critics condemned the vulgarity that they found in the book in the various terms that were used in the book. However unlike the writing styles of the times, Jerome did not use glorifying terms or artificial terms to express the feelings of the people.
The book refers to the three men among whom one character was represented by the author himself. An important theme in this book is the importance that is given to pleasure trips wherein the friends took several excursions in the boat on the River Thames and other places.
These pleasure trips were earlier enjoyed usually by the middle and upper middle class people. However, the writing of this book “Three Men in a Boat” made the pleasure trips on the rivers of England extremely popular. Another important theme in the book is the love for nature and in order to express their love for nature the three friends go on excursion over River Thames. This book can be considered as an important contribution to the travel literature particularly within England. This book is the story of three common people who speak the usual language spoken by the common people. They do not involve in any great adventures and there are no great heroes and villains in this book. The appeal to the masses is an important theme in this book.
However we can consider that the most important theme is the love of these people for travel, pleasure trips and their love of nature. An important aspect of this book is that initially it was conceived as a serious guide to traveling on boat. However humor became the principal style narration in this book. The readers regarded that many jokes in the book are relevant even today. One important theme found in this book is the need for relaxation from work. Thus, one can find the theme of escape in this work. Hence, the three men go for a pleasure trip in order to escape from the problems which they faced.
An important theme is the disease which had attacked the friend of Jerome which led to search for the proper medicine to cure this disease. After reading the various medical literatures, the author feels that he possesses all the diseases mentioned in these works. Jerome mentions that, “I sat and pondered. I thought what an interesting case I must be from a medical point of view, what an acquisition I should be to a class! Students would have no need to “walk the hospitals”, if they had me. I was hospital in myself.
All they need would be walk around me, and, after that take their diploma”. (Jerome, 1995) In this statement one can also find the theme of humor as the author is not only discussing the serious issue of medical problems but at the same time he is finding that he has got various diseases and he describes this with lot of humor. The author after reading about the health problems states that “I walked into the reading-room a happy, healthy man. I crawled out a discrepit wreck”. (Jerome, 1995)
In the second chapter there are preparations for the pleasure trips by the friends of Jerome. The author mentions “Having thus settled the sleeping arrangements to the satisfaction of all four of us, the only thing left to discuss was what we should take with us…” In this juncture one can find the humor in the statement: “George said he felt thirsty (I never knew George when he didn’t)”. (Jerome, 1995) The chapter three of the book refers to the further arrangements that were made for the trip. Humor also can be seen in the statement that “I notice that people always make gigantic arrangements for bathing when they are going anywhere near the water, but that they don’t bathe much when they are there”. (Jerome, 1995)
While preparing for the travel the friends discuss regarding the question of food while traveling. While making travel arrangements, Jerome states that he thought that he is the most efficient person in packing which is essential while traveling. In fact he asked his friends to leave the task of packing to him because Jerome had confidence in his ability to pack. He stated that, “My tooth-brush is a thing that haunts me when I’m travelling, and makes my life a misery”. (Jerome, 1995) Here one can find both the seriousness of the fact that tooth-brush is necessary for travel and the sense of humor exhibited by the author.
The friends visit various historical places and there is interesting discussion regarding the major events related to English history. There is reference to various adventures and misadventures of these three men while traveling. During travel the author states, “The boat seemed stuffy, and my head seemed aching…”(Jerome, 1995). These people had some bad experiences which are suggested by the statement that “The people at the beer shop were rude. They merely laughed at us”. (Jerome, 1995) The experiences on the Marlow River are also explained in detail by the author. Jerome praised this river town due to its liveliness and they could enjoy in this place.
In fact the author stated that “Our departure from Marlow I regard as one of our greatest successes.” (Jerome, 1995) There is also description regarding a procession which they noticed. The author mentioned that he did not like the steam launches and they had problems with these steam launches. The author also describes an incident wherein the friends prepare the meal and the author thought that this was the tastiest food he ever had. This book by Jerome consists of themes such as traveling, escape from daily routine and humor. The various travel experiences of three men has been humorously presented by the author for the enjoyable reading.
Jerome, Jerome K. (1995). Three Men in a Boat, Etext #308, Project Gutenberg, Retrieved online on 10-09-2005 from http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext95/3boat10.txt