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King Solomons Mines Analysis

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Salman Farooq Ghani

Mr. Weigel

Honors English VII

11 December 2004

King Solomon's Mines

Henry Rider Haggard sets out to create a peculiarly thrilling and vigorous tale of adventure, in his book King Solomon's Mines. King Solomon's Mines is a romantic adventure tale. Sir Henry Curtis, Captain Good and the Allan Quatermain set out on a perilous journey in search for a lost companion and fabled treasure. The book is based in Zululand, Africa and conveys "the fascination Sir Henry R. Haggard found in Africa's landscape, wild life, and mysterious past" (Drabble 210). This term paper relates to how Sir Henry Rider Haggard's experiences and life in Africa have influenced his writings and in particular King Solomon's Mines.

Sir Henry Rider Haggard was born on June 22, 1856 in Bradenham, Norfolk, England (Haggard v). Rider was the sixth son and eighth of ten children (Haggard v). His father had nothing but contempt for him, and saw him as a "dull witted daydreamer" (Haggard v). Rider was never given the proper education, unlike his brothers. He received his education from London day- School and Ipswich Grammar School ("Sir Henry Rider Haggard" (1856-1925) 1). In 1875, Haggard went to Natal, Africa as a secretary to Sir Henry Bulwer (Haggard vi). During Haggard's stay in Africa, he learned much about the Zulu African people (Sir Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1925) 1). This influence is seen in many of Rider's books such as King Solomon's Mines, Marie, and Child of Storm (Haggard vi). In 1880 he returned to England and married Mariana Louisa Margitson (Haggard vii). The couple moved to Transvaal, Africa, but later returned to England. Back home Sir Henry studied law and was accepted to the bar in 1884 (Sir Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1925), 2). In 1882 his first book Cerywayo and His White Neighbors: or, Remarks on Recent Events in Zululand was published. Shortly after he wrote two more books named Dawn (1882) and The Witches Head (1884), but they were not successful (Haggard vii).

1883, was a turning point in the life of Sir Henry Rider Haggard. In response to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, Rider wrote King Solomon's Mines in only six weeks. The novel was a bestseller in England and "printed over half a million copies in Haggard's lifetime" (Haggard vii). Other notable books include She (1887), Jess (1887), and Allan Quatermain (1887) all based in Africa. In several novels he wrote of ancient Egypt such as Cleopatra (1889). In 1891 the death of his mother and son Arthur John "were devastating blows" (Haggard viii). He continuously wrote books, but his writing had lost momentum. Haggard was a skilled farmer, and knew a lot about farming and agriculture. He served on various governments related agricultural posts and wrote books on farming. Haggard was knighted in 1912 (Haggard, Sir H. Rider 1). In 1919 he was given the title of the Knight Commander of the British Empire (Sir Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1925) 4). He died in London on May 14, 1925. He had written a total of forty works. His autobiography "The Days of My Life" was published in 1926 (Haggard x).

The plot of the novel King Solomon's Mines is highly amusing and engaging. Allan Quatermain (the author) is an elephant hunter and adventurer, who is traveling to Durban Africa, when he meets two men: Sir Henry Curtis and Captain Good (Haggard 5). Henry Curtis is searching for his lost brother Neville, who had vanished on an expedition to King Solomon's diamond mines (Haggard 12). Sir Henry manages to persuade Allan and together they set out on a perilous journey to find Neville, and rumored treasure in King Solomon's mines. They recruit a Hottentot, a young African boy, and a Zulu warrior Umpoba (Haggard 32-33). Together they set out for the "land of the Kukuana's" (Sir Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1025) 3). Their journey takes them through terrible deserts, freezing cold mountain ranges and savage tribal lands. Their only guide was a map drawn by the one man who had managed to reach King Solomon's mines, Jose de Silvestra (Haggard 18). Finally the company reached their destination. In Kukuanaland, they encounter a barbaric king, Twala. According to Haggard Twala appearance was "that of an enormous man with the most entirely repulsive countenance we had ever beheld (103)." Umpoba, the mysterious Zulu servant, steps forward to claim his right to the throne (Sir Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1925) 3). After a series of bloody battles, Twala is overthrown, and Umpoba, the rightful heir becomes king (Haggard 175). Finally Sir Henry, Captain Good, and Allan set out for King Solomon's Mines, accompanied by an evil witch-doctor Gagool (Haggard 187). In the deep chambers of the mines Gagool deserts the company, and seals the passage to leave them hopelessly trapped (Sir Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1925) 3). Having abandoned hope the company surrender themselves to death but as they say "where there's life there's hope," (Haggard 212) they manage to find a way out of the miserable mines and Allan Quatermain scrambles a few diamonds with him. On their homeward journey, they find Neville on the outskirts of the desert (Haggard 232). The company returns home rich, famous and successful.

Allan Quatermain is a first person narration by the author. Allan is a veteran elephant hunter. He is recruited by Captain Good and Henry Curtis on their expedition to King Solomon's Mines. Allan is described as a timid man; he is not much of an adventurer. He prefers to stay on the safe side. Allan os reluctant to undertake the journey, he see's himself entering the jaws of death. His hesitation for the journey was partly because of his son, he feared for his future (Haggard 23). Allan is an extremely clever and opportunistic person, he knew how to deal and outwit the Zulu people. As soon as the company entered Zululand, he makes up the story of their ascension from the stars (Haggard 84). Allan is an excellent shooter, he often hunts for the company, and astonishes the Zulu people with his rifle skills (Haggard 85). Allan is a faint-hearted person. He is smitten by the deaths of his two servants (Haggard 71). He is also very affectionate for others. He loves his son dearly (Haggard 25). He risks his life for Umpobas sake and took part in the bloody battle with Twala's forces (Haggard 114). On the eve of the battle, Allan's heart is shaken knowing so many young men would die "perhaps among those gathered, many would be stiffening in the cold: their wives would be widows, their children fatherless,



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