Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)

by Jerome K. Jerome
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Provide a character sketch of Harris in "Three Men in a Boat."

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As the title suggests, Harris (also known as William Harris) is one of the three men in the boat. Readers receive commentary about Harris from J., who thinks that William Harris is completely dull and without any poetry or beauty to speak of in his person. J. compares William Harris to...

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As the title suggests, Harris (also known as William Harris) is one of the three men in the boat. Readers receive commentary about Harris from J., who thinks that William Harris is completely dull and without any poetry or beauty to speak of in his person. J. compares William Harris to "Uncle Podger," who was known for carrying out elaborate procedures for simple projects. Although William Harris is a lot like George (in that they both schedule their activities around their next meal), Harris has much more pride in his musical ability, at least when it comes to comedy. Unfortunately, William Harris' memory does not serve him well in that he can never remember all of the words to his comic songs. William Harris' pride, then, doesn't match his ability. William Harris is known to J. mostly for the night of drunkenness (and rant about swans) when both George and J. go into the town alone. In fact, William Harris is always falling due to drunkenness (whether it be onto the grass, into the hamper, or into a bunch of swans). Of course, at the end of the story all three of the characters (including Harris) abandon the boat and board the train to London.

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William Stanley Harris is one of the three friends who makes this boat trip along the River Thames. We don’t know if he has a “real” job. Evidently he is the kind of person who doesn’t understand the boundaries of his own abilities, or even the lack of them. J., the narrator, equates him to his own Uncle Podger, who once went through elaborate and unnecessary steps in order to simply hang a picture on a wall. In Chapter VI, Harris tells a story of a time when he got lost in the maze at Hampton Court. In Chapter XI, he tries to make scrambled eggs for his friends breakfast, without success. He tends to complicate simple tasks. J. also hints strongly that Harris likes to drink. During this trip, he falls into the food hamper; he falls into the grass; and in Chapter XIV, he claims to have fought off a flock of rogue swans while George and J. were on shore. They doubted him.

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