An Overview of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

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In The Hitchhikers Guide to the galaxy, the setting is a weird one. The setting is the whole universe, although they spend most of their time in a ship called the “Heart of Gold,” which was stolen by Zaphod Beeblebrox, who was briefly the President of the Galaxy. (Don’t be fooled, it involves no power at all, only requiring that the president attracts attention, so the general public doesn’t wonder who’s really in charge, kinda a facade in chief) They also visit the planet of Magrathea, however, most of the story takes place on the Heart of Gold. The Time Period is all over the place as well. It seems to be in the future, as they’re space ships and such. There isn’t really a time given, but we know that the majority of the story takes place millions of years after the Earth was created. The social setting is kinda just “friends traveling across the galaxy to find the meaning of life.” The cultural setting is just a bunch of planets and civilizations united in a common government.


Zaphod Beeblebrox: He was briefly the President of the universe. He notably has 2 heads and 3 arms, where he presumably took “unpresidential” traits out of his main head, but he wanted to keep them, so he made a second head to store them in. The origin of his third arm is different among the different versions of the book, but in my version, it was a consequence of attaching a second head and it just grew. He could be described as narcissistic, irresponsible, and he invented Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, a very potent drink based off of Old Janx Spirit, another very potent drink. He also was voted as the “Worst Dressed Sentient Being in the Known universe,” …… consecutive times. One of his main motivations for stealing the “Heart of Gold,” a ship powered by the Infinite Improbability Drive, was to get to the lost planet of Magrathea, for which he wanted to steal the “treasures” that lay beneath its crust.

Tricia Marie McMillan: Her nickname in the book is Trillian. Her physical description is, and I quote, “a slim darkish humanoid with waves of black hair, a full mouth, an odd little knob of a nose, and ridiculously brown eyes.” She is half human- and is friends with Zaphod. They ride together in the Heart of Gold. Zaphod rescued her for Earth’s destruction when he stole the ship. The book refers to her as smart, but shy and self-reserved.

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Arthur Dent: Aurthur is the main protagonist in the story. He barely escapes the destruction of the Earth. He was described as about 30, very tall, and dark-haired. His personality was described as “Never at ease with himself.” After he escapes the Earth, he spends most of his time as a galactic hitchhiker, bouncing from ship to ship until he eventually ended up on the Heart of Gold. In the first few chapters of the book his house on Earth is being bulldozed, and he even lies in front of one of the bulldozers to get them to stop. Throughout the book, he is generally considered stupid and doesn’t have a quick wit.

Marvin the Depressed Android: Yes, you heard me right, this book even has a depressed android. He was one of the failed prototypes of Sirius Cybernetics Corporation’s GPP (Genuine People Personalities) technologies. Unfortunately for him, he suffers from extreme depression and boredom. He is constantly saying rather unkind comments, and pretty much stands there. He’ll get mad at you if you tell him something to do, but also if you give him nothing to do. He once saved the crew of the Heart of Gold by plugging himself into the enemy ship’s computer, and when it is exposed to the true nature of Marvin’s view of the Universe, the ship commits suicide.

Ford Perfect: Not as perfect as his name would suggest. He takes a more existential view of the universe and is very eccentric and open-minded. He also has a very dark sense of humor. He is also 200 years old, as his 200th birthday was when Zaphod stole the Heart of God. His smile was described to 'send hitherto sane men scampering into the trees' His main characteristic is…... “to have an alcohol good time.”


While I read this book, I was amused. The Dry humor and crazy things in this book made it a fun read. When Douglas Adams wrote this book, “Making sense” wasn’t on the list of high priorities. Around every page, there is a new thing that makes no sense, is just funny, or something you totally didn’t expect.


The main theme that immediately stands out to me is absurdity. During this entire book, almost anything happens without cause or meaning. Some things just don’t make sense, but some things stand reason completely on its head. A small yellow fish becomes a useful means of communication as well as the cause of bloody wars and proof against God's existence. An ordinary towel becomes 'the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.' This book is just generally silly and full of humor. The Earth gets destroyed to make way for an interstellar highway for crying out loud. The theme of absurdity also shines in Zaphod, who is the “president” of the galaxy. (In the later book we find out it’s a man living in a shack with his cat. See? Absurd!)

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