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Interpretation of the Extract from “Three Men in a Boat” by Jerome K. Jerome (Chapter Xiv)

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Interpretation of the extract from “Three men in a boat” by Jerome K. Jerome (Chapter XIV)
The text under interpretation is an extract from the book “Three Men in a Boat” by an English writer Jerome K. Jerome. He wrote novels Three Men in a Boat, The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, Novel Notes and Three Men on the Bummel. Jerome K. Jerome is famous for his art of story-telling, his vivid style and his humor which is generally expressed in laughter-provoking situations often based on misunderstanding. With sparkling humour he criticized the weak sides of human nature.
The three men are based on Jerome himself and two real-life friends, George Wingrave and Carl Hentschel, with whom he often took boating trips. The dog, Montmorency, is entirely fictional but, "as Jerome admits, developed out of that area of inner consciousness which, in all Englishmen, contains an element of the dog.” The trip is a typical boating holiday of the time in a Thames camping skiff. This was just after commercial boat traffic on the Upper Thames had died out, replaced by the 1880s craze for boating as a leisure activity.
This story tells us about a boating holiday on the Thames between Kingston and Oxford. The chapter for the interpretation Jerome K. Jerome begins with the lyrical describing the area where three friends had come. Those picturesque views and plenty of time inspire the travelers to try to cook a good, slap-up supper. They use all their sharpness and resource to cope with the assigned task. And during their tortures the author makes fun of their actions and raises some philosophic problems.
In this chapter the reader can see three main characters. The first one is George. In my point of view he dominates over others in the given extract. He looks like decided, enterprising and active person who can make someone followed him. He always gives some ideas for two other men, commands and advice. Harris and the author submit to George. They look so absurd, odd, helpless and compliant that seems too fun. Their characters, as I think, are the same, at least in this chapter. George can be contrasted with Harries and the author. It’s striking how so different persons can be very close friends. The author doesn’t give any description of the characters’ appearance, he leave it for the reader’s imagination. The reader can get all this character’s description of their temper in the direct author’s statements; he is also one of the friends, and through the character’s own speech in dialogues. The fact that the story is written in the form of the first person narration lets the reader feel that it’s some private story which was told you by your old friend.
The main idea of this extract is showing how the person look when he do something in the first time, and not just showing it, but the author rises, I think a question, should the man do something he like if he doesn’t cope with it in a proper way. Let’s try to sort out this problem and start from the very beginning.
Firstly, the extract starts with the description of Sonning. It’s a village, “the most fairy-like little nook on the whole river”, “every house is smothered in roses and now they are bursting forth in clouds of dainty splendor”. All these metaphors make a good impression about this place and the reader can feel some calmness and happiness when he images all these pictures in his own head.
It seems a fascinating idea to the friends to try a good slap-up supper. The epithets single out that this thought seems to the author funny and also that the author likes his characters and he doesn’t scoff of them but just make fun of their inability to cook a simple dinner and even to peel the potatoes. This humor can be found through the whole text. And sometimes the author uses such a stylistic devise as the exaggeration. For example: “I should never have thought that peeling potatoes was such an undertaking. The job turned out to be the biggest thing of this kind that I had ever been in.” it helps to make the situation more fun and ridiculous.
Even the elements of irony are in the text. Such as “I never saw such a thing as potato-scraping for making a fellow in a mess.” And there are the hyperbolas such as “it seemed difficult to believe that the potato-scrapings, in which Harris and I stood, half smothered, could have come off four potatoes”. These devices show to the readers that the author finds absurd details in each action of the heroes.
Of course it doesn’t relate only to these friends and only to this concrete situation. I think that the author has in mind all peoples who start to do some new work or something like this. Maybe it is some kind of the synecdoche when the author, speaking about concrete situation and concrete peoples, means the whole class of peoples who not take their place in life or have not found it yet.
Or the author wants to say that you may look funny and odd in some situations in which you are not professional or good, BUT if you get some pleasure of doing it or you are glad with the result of working, isn’t it important what the others will say? I think no.
I’m sure that the author doesn’t want to deride the people. And the humor in the end of the extract, where the friends admire with their Irish stew with a taste like nothing else on earth, shows to the readers that the author is belonged to this situation with irony. The exaggeration like “I don’t think I ever enjoyed a meal more”, and humor with irony such as “there was good stuff in it…and as for gravy, it was a poem – a little too rich, perhaps, for a weak stomach, but nutritious” shows how happy the friends are. And it’s the most important thing to feel satisfaction from the accomplished work.
The structure of the text is usual. The text presents narration with some elements of description, dialogues, account of events. The extract can be divided into three parts: the introduction, where the author describes the village, the culmination- the whole process of preparing and cooking, and the conclusion where the characters admire with their slap-up supper. In the first part we can feel the lyrical mood which the author creates with helping of different epithets (I’ve mentioned them in the beginning of the interpretation). The second and the third parts are not lyrical at all, they seem to me humorous. Different devices make the plot active, dynamic, one action is changed with other one. The polysyndeton helps to create the rhythmical effect “George gathered wood and made a fire, and Harris and I started to peel the potatoes…” The same effect is reached with the anaphora “the more we peeled the more peel there seemed to be left on”. Reading this extract the reader dips into the whole gold thread of the actions and as he were there, in Sonning and took a part in the cooking.
The colloquial and neutral styles, in which the extract is written, just reinforce the effect that this story is told by your old close friend.
When I’ve read this extract I felt different emotions. The brightest one was the laughing. The person who just read this book without any thoughts and any desire to find out the deep sense of is able just to see the picture as three friends are cooking the Irish stew and other funny situations. But those who read between the lines is able to open some new eat for thought because Jerome K. Jerome gives some serious problems and questions skillfully covers it with the curtain of humor.
In conclusion I want to express my opinion about the text’s problem. I think that there is nothing awful if you want to master some new occupation, but you haven’t the skills. If you do it for yourself it’s more important to get some satisfaction of it than listen to the opinion of others, because tastes differ.
To my mind this text is very entertaining. And even if you are not interested in searching a deep sense, you can just enjoy with perfect sense of humor of Jerome K. Jerome.

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