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

What role does humour play in the novel three men in a boat

Three men in a boat chapter 11 to 19

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Much of the humor in Three Men in a Boat is derived from the characters’ hypocritical behavior – especially that of J., the narrator. J. frequently digresses from the narrative to write long, scathing takedowns of people and behaviors that annoy him. While the rants themselves are often quite witty, Jerome adds another layer of humor by having J. himself be guilty of the behaviors he criticizes. One of the novel’s many examples of this comes when he grows angry at George and Harris for being lazy, while he himself avoids chores as often as possible. By making his narrator unreliable in this way, Jerome ensures that the negative, critical aspects of the story remain enjoyable and lighthearted. And yet the point remains apt, especially since characters almost everywhere in the book show a tendency to speak a certain way while acting in an opposite manner.