Summary of 3 Men in a Boat

Topics: River Thames, Magna Carta, Jerome K. Jerome Pages: 3 (1269 words) Published: February 25, 2013
Three Men in a Boat is a deceptively simple story: three friends take a boating holiday on the River Thames. At first sight this does not seem a likely plot for a classic work of comedy, and the fact that it was written in the late Victorian period and was an instant bestseller seems even harder to believe. Nowadays a sense of humour does not immediately spring to mind as a defining characteristic of the Victorians, particular as Queen Victoria herself is famous for the remark, ‘We are not amused!’ Jerome K. Jerome later wrote, ‘I did not intend to write a funny book, at first. I did not know I was a humorist. I never have been sure about it. In the middle ages, I should probably have gone about preaching and got myself burnt or hanged.’ Although the book was a huge success with the reading public, Jerome was lucky that it was not killed off by the reviews. ‘Of course it was damned by the critics,’ Jerome observed. ‘One might have imagined – to read some of them – that the British Empire was in danger. One Church dignitary went about the country denouncing me. Punch was especially indignant, scenting an insidious attempt to introduce “new humour” into comic literature.’ The humour lies not in the plot, but in the detail. A relaxing holiday on the river, rowing and sailing upstream, seeing the sights, and camping in the boat during overnight stops – what could possibly go wrong? The answer, of course, is just about everything, and it is the antics of the three men with their differering attitudes and approaches to the various problems that make the book so funny. On the periphery, there is also the dog Montmorency, a thoroughly anarchic figure whose practical solution to their difficulties usually consists of getting out of the way until all the fuss dies down. Most of the humour comes from comic set pieces, such as the agony of putting up a tent in adverse weather conditions. In some cases, episodes that still raise a laugh (because they are based on perennial...
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