In Three Men in a Boat, why do the three men need a holiday?

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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At the beginning of the story, the three friends George, Harris and the narrator Jerome, decide that they need a holiday. George sums up the reason as follows:

The overstrain upon our brains has produced a general depression throughout the system. Change of scene, and absence of the necessity of thought, will restore the mental equilibrium. (chapter 1)

This is George’s rather complicated way of saying that they are tired and run-down, and so they need to refresh themselves by going away for a break.

Just before this the three have been discussing their illnesses, how they feel giddy and too fatigued to do any work. However, it is clear that they are not really ill. Like most of the book, this episode is played for laughs. Jerome is ironically aware the whole time of how they are playing up their ailments for dramatic effect and also as an excuse not to work.

Jerome also comments on the role of medical advertising; whenever he reads an advert claiming to cure a certain disease, he becomes convinced that he has that disease. He relates how once, when reading a medical book in the British Museum, he ended up thinking he had practically every major known illness. Obviously this could not be true, and such an exaggeration points to the wryly humorous nature of Jerome’s account.

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amaanauh007's profile pic

amaanauh007 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

At the beginning of the story, the three friends George, Harris and the narrator Jerome, decide that they need a holiday. George sums up the reason as follows:

The overstrain upon our brains has produced a general depression throughout the system. Change of scene, and absence of the necessity of thought, will restore the mental equilibrium. (chapter 1)

This is George’s rather complicated way of saying that they are tired and run-down, and so they need to refresh themselves by going away for a break.

Just before this the three have been discussing their illnesses, how they feel giddy and too fatigued to do any work. However, it is clear that they are not really ill. Like most of the book, this episode is played for laughs. Jerome is ironically aware the whole time of how they are playing up their ailments for dramatic effect and also as an excuse not to work.

Jerome also comments on the role of medical advertising; whenever he reads an advert claiming to cure a certain disease, he becomes convinced that he has that disease. He relates how once, when reading a medical book in the British Museum, he ended up thinking he had practically every major known illness. Obviously this could not be true, and such an exaggeration points to the wryly humorous nature of Jerome’s account.

THANK YOU:)

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