Long Form on Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Author: Douglas Adams, born on March 11, 1952, and died on May 11, 2011, was a famous English author of one of the most popular books, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Adams first attended Primrose Hill Primary School in Brentwood and then later Brentwood School after he passed his required entrance exam. Adams stood 6 foot when he was just 12 years old, which made him stand out in school. Adam’s master (teacher) stated that he had a unique ability to write stories that made that made him well known in his school. Adams later went on to attend the University of Cambridge to earn a Master’s Degree in English Literature. After leaving the University, Adams tried to become involved on T.V and a writer for the BBC radio but struggled to follow this path. The barrier between him and going to the BBC radio, led to him doing odd jobs for him to make money for himself. Adams still wrote in his free time and later, when drunk in a field, he had an idea for his novel. While carrying a copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to Europe, he was staring at the stars which sparked a plan to produce “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” The series first aired as a TV/radio series before being published as a novel by Adams. Adams was an atheist, which influenced him of writing this novel. “Well, this is an interesting world that I find myself in - In fact, it fits me staggering well, must have been made to have me in it!” (Adams. 1998). Adams demonstrates his view of the argument between the Universe and how God was a fallacy.
Form, Structure and Plot: The author organizes the novel by chronological order of events which contains 216 pages with 34 chapters. In the plot, there are no dream sequences or flashbacks that occur as everything happens in present time. For instance, at the beginning of the first chapter, the characters first meet, and then in the next chapter, the Earth is under threat by the Vogons. The plot is mostly simple and includes a few/rare complex scenes where the author also uses many anti-climatic twists throughout the story. For example, when describing the Vogon ships, he refers to them as bricks instead of giving the reader a detailed illustration. The reader expects a unique and in-depth description of the ships, but instead, Adams provides a clear explanation about a topic where the reader’s high expectations are not met.
Point of View: The reader is reading the novel in a third person point of view where the narrator is omniscient. The narrator can jump into each character's minds and tell the reader what the character is thinking. The narrator is also able to interrupt the ongoing action to give the reader background information on important key subjects. Some of the key events are how Arthur reacts when Earth is no longer standing and when Arthur and Ford get rescued by a ship.
Character: The novel contains four main characters who are Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Trillian. The characters are one-dimensional, so neither of them are flat/round who learn or grow, but instead, react to the ongoing actions.
Graph 4: "React to the ongoing actions" could be rewritten to "react to the novel's plot".
Graph 4: Arthur Dent is the main protagonist who is a dynamic character? You wrote, "The characters are one-dimensional, so neither of them are flat/round who learn or grow". It's contradictory.
Graph 4: "For his characteristics" a bit of an awkward statement.
Graph 4: "Trillian saves the others from the potential dangers that they put themselves, and her, in from a lack of responsibility on their part."
The sentence meanders and isn't clear.
Arthur Dent is the main protagonist who is a dynamic character as he changes from a complainer to a hero. Arthur Dent is a human who is in his 20s/30s. For his characteristics, he is unaware, innocent, and sarcastic. For example, when Arthur and Ford are safe on a Vogon ship, Arthur states ‘“Ah,” said Arthur, “this is obviously some strange usage of the word safe that I wasn’t previously aware of” (49). Arthur shows his sarcastic tone here, which is prevalent throughout the story. He always tries to turn the adverse situation he was just in into a light-hearted one. Ford Prefect is a static character as he doesn’t go through any changes. Ford’s last name “Prefect” sounds very similar “Perfect” which is on purpose. There are constant reminders of how Ford is almost perfect, but isn’t, hence the name “Prefect.” Ford Prefect is an alien in the story who can be described as incompetent, relaxed, and informal. Since Ford Prefect is an alien, the reader doesn’t know his age or his real appearance. Out of the stressful situations that Ford deals with, he is always laid back throughout the story. For example, after nearly dying and barely being rescued by the Heart of Gold, he reacts if it isn’t out of the ordinary and states “Bright idea of mine," said Ford, "to find a passing spaceship and get rescued by it" (80). Ford explains that he knew the plan all along of being rescued promptly. Zaphod Beeblebrox is Ford’s semi-cousin who is also an alien, that is intelligent, reckless and dramatic. Zaphod is a static character who has two heads, three arms, and a vile tasting in clothing as described in the novel. Zaphod looks for adventure in the story where he will do anything to try to induce others to focus on him. For instance, he steals the Heart of Gold ship to draw attention to himself from every part of the galaxy as he states “He grinned at them particularly because he knew that in a few moments, he would be giving them one hell of a quote” (43). Zaphod knows he committed an enormous, grave act where he smiles at the press. Lastly, there is Trillian who is a female human that is clever, calm, and quick-witted. Trillian is a static character who has black hair, brown eyes, a little knob of a nose, and a full mouth. Trillian saves the others from the potential dangers that they put themselves, and her, in from a lack of responsibility on their part. For example, she moves Zaphod’s hand when he carelessly touches the control panel where it’s stated “He tapped irritably at a control panel. Trillian quietly moved his hand before he tapped anything important” (89-90). Trillian quickly moves Zaphod’s hand to avoid any problems that Zaphod might’ve caused by his lack of responsibility.
Setting: In the opening scene, the setting is on Earth, in the United Kingdom, where the characters spend little time on Earth because of its little importance. The only importance Earth has is to the very advanced mice who inhabit it for survival. The reasoning for its little importance is that since the galaxy is vastly large, there are other important events happening throughout it. For example, there are other more serious events going on such as the stolen heart of gold in chapter 6 then the tension of Earth surviving a threat. The plot later develops in the rest of the galaxy, where the characters travel to many planets throughout the galaxy. The symbolic meaning of this is to emphasize the message where embarking on a journey is a tedious and uneasy task, just as exploring all the planets of the galaxy.
Graph 5: "Just as exploring all the planets of the galaxy".The end of the sentence reads like it was cut off.
Diction: The work is mostly written in a formal register where the conversation between the characters is casual and laid back. For example, when Ford talks to the bulldozer crew, he professionally talks to them to de-escalate the situation. “It’s very simple,” said Ford, “my client, Mr. Dent, says that he will stop laying here in the mud on the sole condition that you come and take over from him” (Adams.1.16). There is an actual guide in the novel titled “Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” (hence the name of the title) that symbolizes a key that helps the characters open a mysterious door they come across. For instance, the book has information that can help Ford and Author get through whatever obstacle they’re stuck in or whatever help they need. The language is concise as there isn’t any text where the reader can’t interpellate it.
Syntax: The sentences are predominantly simple with a few convoluted sentences varying each page. For the length, there is an average of 3-5 paragraphs per page with 4-8 sentences in each paragraph. There are no rhetorical questions stated in the novel, but there are examples of parallel structure. One example is when Author tries to save his house from being destroyed and replaced for an overpass, while later, the Earth is also being threatened to be demolished in place for a Galactic Highway. There are rare instances of repetition in the novel where one of them is a constant reminder to the reader of how one of the characters, Marvin, is a depressed robot. The author uses syntax to enhance effect and support, meaning by using anti-climatic twists and cliches. For example, the reader is expecting a huge surprise or even a story when Author Dent and Ford Prefect first meet. Instead, both of them previously meant at a party, which creates a twist. The author sets the possible tone of a Dark-humor as Author’s home (Earth) gets destroyed and reflects past experiences which he can never experience again, but at the same time, there is comedic relief in the novel. The choices here set one of the themes where even in the most tragic or saddest moments, there is always something to be cheerful about.
Concrete Detail/Imagery: An example of visual imagery used in the novel was when the Vogon fleet stood in Earth’s atmosphere and how Author describes it offending nature. “Motionless they hung, huge, heavy, steady in the sky, a blasphemy against nature. (Adams.3.33). The spaceship scene here gives the reader an image in their mind of how the ships have a negative appearance on nature which is a vast, warm-hearting creation.
Symbolism: One piece of symbolism used in the novel is when the mice give Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent food other than threatening them to leave by using deadly force. “Have some vegan Rhino’s cutlet. It’s delicious if you happen to like that sort of thing” (Adams.32.197). The food that the mice are providing symbolises as a peace offering since usually, no one is friendly in the Galaxy, no matter who they meet. This symbolism is used to point out that there is some part of the Galaxy where there are peaceful dwellers who are there to help one another willingly.
Figurative Language (Tropes): There are many metaphorical devices in the novel fluctuating from similes, metaphors, personifications, and hyperboles. One of these devices occurs every 15-20 pages. The author creates these devices to create a humorous twist/effect in the midst of some of the most stressful situations in the novel. There are examples used during the spaceship scene, the police chase and when first meeting the mice on the mysterious planet.
Ironic Devices: An example of verbal irony is the title itself as recording the entire Galaxy’s data is nearly unfeasible. The journey would also be pointless since Dent learns that through the passage, life is often senseless and very random. The author uses this to educate the reader on how big the universe really is and how sometimes even trying to know everything isn’t a feat that is required or unique. Another example of irony is situational irony is how the robot is depressed. The ironic part of this is that technology such as artificial intelligence is not capable of experiencing emotions. The author uses this to introduce maybe a theory where artificial intelligence has evolved so far where have adapted from the human race’s characteristics.
Tone: The author’s tone in the novel is dark and humorous. The author makes a few of his character's experience difficult hardships and but then adds a comical twist in it as he regularly does in the novel.
For example, when Author figures out planet Earth is destroyed, he reflects back on his parents who expired but then to McDonald’s. “McDonald’s he thought. There is no longer any such thing as a McDonald’s hamburger. He passed out” (Adams.6.61). Here in this scene, Author thinks back to how everyone, including his parents, is gone, but so are other in particular objects such as McDonald’s, where he faints after realizing about it. The author adds a bit of comedic relief in this dire situation that Author Dent is in.
Theme: The book’s central theme focuses on exploration where one shouldn’t be afraid to move out into the unknown and experience new things. The characters in the novel participate in many unique events which they haven’t experienced before. The idea of setting out and exploring is probably more exciting than merely just waiting for an answer to come from others.
Significance of the title: When looking at the title itself, “Hitchhiker’s” is singular, meaning that this guide is intended for a person who is travelling by themselves. However, the ironic part is that all of the characters in the book go together and rarely ever move alone. During the author’s period (the 1970s), hitchhiking was very popular where real, actual guides were published. Guides were also cheap during that period so Adam’s idea is to publish a guide where a person can travel the galaxy cheaply. Adams also combines two vastly different topics, hitchhiking and the galaxy, gesturing a comedic twist since space usually symbolizes the meaning of life. The message that the author tries to convey through the exploration of new things in the midst of serious issues ongoing, there is always something to have fun or joke about.
Graph 14: "The message that the author tries to convey through the exploration of new things in the midst of serious issues ongoing, there is always something to have fun or joke about." It's a good point but the sentence needs to be rewritten.
Memorable Quotes: ‘“Here, have a look at this,” said Ford. He sat down on one of the mattresses and rummaged about in his satchel. Arthur prodded the mattress nervously and then sat on it himself’ (Adams.5.51). In this quote, Adams provides an example related to his theme of how Arthur understands new things that he isn’t typically comfortable with. Another quote related to this is when Zaphod points out the main reasons for adventuring and the benefits have it. ‘“Well," said Zaphod airily, "it's partly the curiosity, partly a sense of adventure, but mostly I think it's the fame and the money …”’ (Adams.16.121). Zaphod notes that one can come across fame and money sparked by the curiosity of adventuring. Another memorable quote is how Arthur reacts to saddening events such as when his house was destroyed. “Ah. It's been demolished.” “Has it,” said Arthur levelly. “Yes. It just boiled away into space.” Look,” said Arthur, “I'm a bit upset about that.” (Adams.5.54). Arthur's house has been demolished, but instead of making a depressing view of it, he tries to deal with this sadness as it isn’t out of the ordinary. Adams mostly likely does this to prevent the story from becoming a tragedy. Another event similar to that is when the Earth is destroyed and all Arthur can think about is how “McDonald’s” is gone. “McDonald’s he thought. There is no longer any such thing as a McDonald’s hamburger. He passed out” (Adams.6.61). Arthur goes through a major shock, not believing what has just happened. However, Adams continues with the comedic twist by illustrating that Arthur is more concerned about how there is no longer any McDonald’s left. “Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation” (Adams.6.60). Communication is usually essential to avoid a catastrophic war, but here in this instance, communication has caused destructive wars. The significance of this reminds the reader that the galaxy is still not a safe realm to be travel upon.
Additional Comments: I did enjoy the novel as it had many comedic twists that I was interested in. The strengths of the text were how the narrator described each unique action that happened in the story which helped the reader make an imagination of the event in their mind. The weakness of the text was how sometimes, several events are happening fast which can make it hard for the reader to put the events that occur in chronological order. The lingering questions I still have are, what happened after the Earth was destroyed, and how did Arthur continue with his life in the galaxy after the novel concludes.
Graph 16: "The lingering questions I still have are, what happened after the Earth was destroyed, and how did Arthur continue with his life in the galaxy after the novel concludes" is not written as a question.
The selection relates to some other books I read by having the similar tragic events that occur such as when a character has to abandon its former home or habitat to go out on an adventure. Insights that I’ve gained is that you shouldn’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to go out seeking for an adventure. Personally, I don’t expect any long-lasting effects on me. The long form was very tedious to complete in a short time frame if I had more time, I think it would’ve come out better. The quote “Quality over Quantity” would be the best comment to fit in the long form, as the longer the time frame for the long form, the more quality it is rather than a few days.
Adams, Douglas. “In Memoriam Douglas Adams' Speech at Digital Biota 2 Cambridge U.K., September 1998.” Douglas Adams' Speech at Digital Biota 2,www.biota.org/people/douglasadams/.
Learn but don't copy directly ;)