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Tarzan of the Apes

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel Tarzan of the Apes is the first among the series of Tarzan books. The Tarzan stories are a very entertaining adventure tales regarding the life of the man-ape Tarzan. The first book tells the story of the young boy raised by an ape (Kala) in the jungle and his journey to manhood. His coming of age also shows his discovery of the world and the life at which he originated from. Written in the early 1900s, the Tarzan stories have not lost its flair among readers and are still popular up to now.

The first book, the Tarzan of the Apes, starts with the introduction of John and Alice Clayton, otherwise known as Lord and Lady Greystoke. They were on a dispatch to Africa but unfortunate events in the sailing vessel at which they were aboard led them to be left ashore in an unknown jungle. The couple made do with what they have and in a few months time, was able to have a decent shelter; however, their problem with the wild creatures did not end. At one time, an ape attacked the couple.

Alice was able to kill the ape but was mentally affected due to the shock that the attack has brought on her. She then stayed in the cabin even after her son is born, tending and taking care for their first born. A year after the child is born, Alice dies in her sleep. John tries to put reason for his life and his son’s but in the end, was killed by the ape Kerchak. Fortunately, the ape Kala reached the baby first before Kerchak and took care of him. The baby grows up to be called Tarzan.

The events that ensued show how Tarzan has become fully incorporated into the ape world, speaking their language and acting like one. This was a real feat for Edgar Rice Borroughs since he made the ape world seem so real – a language, a form of hierarchy, as well as an ape way of life. He made the ape world seem like a man’s world and the man’s world seem like an ape world. It was almost an attestation to Darwin’s theory of evolution! Tarzan’s incorporation to the ape world made him a master of survival.

He was no longer a white man but a king of the jungle, able to wrestle with lions, as well as apes from his own tribe. He becomes the leader of his tribe until his life reaches a turning point when he comes across his parents’ cabin and finds his dad’s stuff with which he teaches himself to read and write with. Then he meets Jane and other humans and instantly, he practices humane values and falls in love with Jane (Burroughs). The story is spell-binding and utmost creative. Borroughs has made Tarzan the ultimate ape man and a gentleman at that.

He has shown the animal and the human in man, for men are able to become savage as animals, yet the difference that separates men from animals is their ability to be humane, their ability to think and therefore to love. The story also shows how civilization affects the ability of man to survive the primeval world and that when the civilized world is reduced, men are left to grope for survival. Moreover, it also shows that men have innate instincts for survival as evidenced by John Clayton’s ability to build a home from branches and tree barks though it was developed over time.

Also, the book sticks for entertainment. Even if some facts are amiss, like the ability of Tarzan to read and write on his own, without mentorship as well as his display of nobility without due observation, these are attributed to heredity and could very well be accepted. Another point that is being questioned is that the main character is British. Tarzan is a successful series in American literature and yet its main character is British.

Well, some people think that Tarzan had to be noble and America had no noble families so, it had to be British. Anyway, it would be pointless to make Cinderella a maid when she is in fact a maid right? What I mean is that if Tarzan was just a nobody, an ordinary person behind his savageness, it wouldn’t be that interesting would it? His transformation wouldn’t be dramatic compared to Cinderella’s. Nevertheless, it is entertaining and besides, it is a fictional novel, or an enhanced fairy tale – a male fairy tale.

It is therefore unquestionable that the story is still alive up to this time, due to the originality of its concept and the entertainment it presents. It has been adapted into movies, be it silent movies or cartoons and has been made into comics. With the success that it has come upon, ‘tis no wonder that it is thought to be the most popular in American Literature. Bibliography: Burroughs, Edgar Rice. Tarzan of the Apes. 23 June 2008. 7 May 2010 <http://www. gutenberg. org/catalog/world/readfile? fk_files=785551>.

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