Friday Fun – Tarzan or Jane?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Who do you think had the better life – Tarzan who was raised in the wild without outside influences, or Jane who was raised in the ‘real world’ with all the modern conveniences, and why?

Jamie Wallace: I have to admit that I don’t know much about the Tarzan stories, but I have always been fascinated by stories of people who have to learn how to fend for themselves in the wild, especially people who have to rediscover their self-reliance and ingenuity after living a life of ease in the “real world.” That said, I think Jane had the better life because she was given that gift of rediscovery and the chance to learn just what she was made of. Other books I love with a similar theme include Island of the Blue Dolphins, Abel’s Island,  and the whole series of Pern books by Anne McCaffrey.

Susan Nye: When I was a kid a couple of local television stations showed old movies on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. These movie marathons were a favorite pastime on cold, rainy weekends so I probably saw most if not all the Tarzan films with Johnny Weissmuller and Lex Barker. Although he was good looking, athletic and fiercely loyal, this me-Tarzan-you-Jane hero was not much of a conversationalist. Vine swinging and alligator wrestling are not high on my list of must-haves, so I guess I’ll have to go with Jane’s upbringing in the industrialized world.

Or maybe I’ll defer my decision until I’ve made the time to read the original – Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes.  Isn’t the book always better than the movie? No longer in the stacks at my local library, the book is in the public domain and available free online. Rain is in the forecast for Sunday.

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa Jackson: First, Susan, Yes! I think a book is always better than a movie because reading lets you use your imagination, where a movie shows you everything and your imagination is shut off. I always enjoyed the simplicity (although it really was more moment-to-moment survival) of Tarzan’s life, but I think Jane had the better life, especially in that she could appreciate the totality of her life and Tarzan’s. Going from having ‘too much’ to ‘not much’ is an easier adjustment, I think, than the reverse. Tarzan moving to the city would be a lot more overwhelming than Jane moving to the jungle. Going from the relative peacefulness of living in nature to the noise and overabundance of all that’s included with industrialization would floor anyone. I love the contrast, though, in thinking about what it would be like for each to move into the other’s world. (And for some reason the Crocodile Dundee movies come to mind now!)
Diane MacKinnon: I really admire all the skills that Tarzan develops because of the way he grew up, so I guess I’ll have to go with him. Living in tune with the natural world and all the senses–that’s how I would like to live. I try really hard to focus on my physical world (and the natural world) because it really helps me stay present. Imagine if I grew up learning that, rather than teaching myself in middle age? I’d be so calm and peaceful, I’d probably be super-annoying!

Julie Hennrikus: I am all over the place on this one. On the one hand, being a woman in 1912 couldn’t have been easy. On the other hand, my idea of roughing it is no cable. Weighing both, I’d have to go for Jane, since she also had an adventure.

6 thoughts on “Friday Fun – Tarzan or Jane?

  1. Tarzan may have been in the jungle, but he was a master!
    I am really thrilled by that movie and the concepts the portray. I love systems and I love the real world. I believe in understanding how the natural survival plays out and setting systems to enhance my desires. Tarzan trusted his instincts, he understood the animals, the weather could not hinder him and even the guns and mordern civilization never intimidated him.
    In my own opinion, civilization is just a tool. The man who understands the workings of real life would be able to utilize it appropriately.
    If given a chance, just like Jane, I would go all out with Tarzan and create the world of my dreams!
    Lovely subject! Lovely post!! 🙂

  2. Def TARZAN! I think I have a bias, however, as every time I hear the name I can only think of the 1960’s series and the actor Ron Ely. Had such a little girl crush on him!
    I think the animal world has more to teach us than the civilized world.

  3. Actually I like Tarzan because I am a dreamer. The story, a mixture of fantasy and reality portrays a man with unusual physical strength, again due to the way he was raised as a kid and his animal friends who stick with him in any trouble sometimes surpassing we humans when it comes to helping each other. In some episodes the plot was so amusing but I like the Tarzan character as he always a symbol of courage,justice and humanity.

  4. You make me feel cynical. Tarzan might understand animals, but malarial mosquitoes have no empathy for anyone. Or how about bilharzia? Lice? Fleas? No question it is Jane for me.

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