Describe the main characters of Three Men in a Boat.
The main characters are the three friends who go for a boating trip along the Thames: George, William Harris and the narrator Jerome, generally referred to as J. We are not given a direct description of them, but they all appear to be quite young, and unmarried. George is the only one described as having a job – in a bank; we are not told exactly what the others do for a living. We do not really get a physical picture of them either, except that Jerome sometimes refers to George as being quite big in stature.
Mainly the three men reveal themselves through their own actions and dialogue, and what they say about each other. Harris is somewhat boorish and fond of food and drink. He also appears somewhat short-tempered, for example when he flies into a rage when deprived of his favourite drink.
George is similar to Harris in character and also seems to be the most practical one of the three; he insists on organising the things that they need for the trip.
Jerome cultivates a more refined bearing than the other two, and is much given to romantic musings during the trip. He appears more dreamy than the others, although this might be because he is the narrator and we are aware of his thoughts all the time.
All three men appear generally quite easy-going and also quite lazy. They are shown in a humorous light, and most of the book’s comedy derives from the various mishaps and mix-ups they encounter on the trip.
Montmorency, Jerome’s dog who accompanies them on the boat, should also be listed among the main characters. He is a small, wicked fox-terrier:
Montmorency’s ambition in life is to get in the way and be sworn at. If he can squirm in anywhere where he is particularly not wanted, and be a perfect nuisance, and make people mad, and have things thrown at his head, then he feels his day has not been wasted. (chapter 4)
Montmorency’s main character trait, then, is to be a ‘perfect nuisance,’ to annoy others and make a mess of things. This makes for some hilarious incidents throughout the book when he has run-ins with various people and animals, adding greatly to the overall humour of the story.