Tarzan of the Apes Summary

  • Last updated on June 24, 2023
Title: Tarzan of the Apes

Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs
Publication Date: 1912
Genre: Adventure Fiction
Page Length: Approximately 260 pages


Tarzan of the Apes, written by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912, is an iconic adventure fiction novel that introduces readers to the story of Tarzan, an English lord raised in the African jungle by apes following the death of his parents.

Title: Tarzan of the Apes
Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs
Publication Date: 1912
Genre: Adventure Fiction
Page Length: Approximately 260 pages

Chapter 1:
The novel begins with the backstory of Lord and Lady Greystoke, passengers aboard a ship destined for the west coast of Africa. Unfortunately, the ship wrecks, and they find themselves stranded on an uninhabited jungle shore. Soon after, they build a crude shelter, where Lady Greystoke gives birth to a son before succumbing to illness. Lord Greystoke, grief-stricken, builds a signal fire and sets off in search of help, but tragically, he falls prey to a tribe of apes.

Chapter 2:
In this chapter, we are introduced to Kala, a female ape whose own baby was killed by Sabor, a fierce lioness. While mourning her loss, Kala discovers the cabin where Lord Greystoke once lived and encounters the newborn baby. Kala, moved by her maternal instinct, adopts the child and names him Tarzan, which means "white skin" in the ape language.

Chapter 3:
We observe Tarzan's upbringing in the jungle, where he learns to mimic the apes' behavior for survival. Though he looks different from his adoptive family, Tarzan becomes their equal in strength and agility. He befriends Terkoz, another young ape, although they have a falling out when Tarzan outperforms him physically.

Chapter 4:
Tarzan starts to become aware of his differences from the apes. He discovers books and learns to read with the help of the tools left behind by his late father. Tarzan also investigates the various types of animals he encounters in the jungle, honing his intellect and skills.

Chapter 5:
We are introduced to Jane Porter, an American girl, and her father, Professor Archimedes Q. Porter, who arrive in Africa to study gorillas. Jane's father believes that humans and apes are related and plans to find evidence to support this theory. Jane captures Tarzan's imagination even before they meet.

Chapter 6:
Tarzan saves Jane from an ape attack, introducing himself with his name and the characteristics he has developed over the years. Tarzan falls in love with her, overwhelmed by her beauty and the realization that he is no ordinary beast but rather a human being.

Chapter 7:
Tarzan rescues Jane again, this time from the clutches of Terkoz, who is seeking revenge against Tarzan for their earlier conflict. Through this episode, Tarzan proves himself as a formidable protector and demonstrates his unique "ape-man" abilities.

Chapter 8:
Tarzan discovers a cache of jewels in a pirate treasure chest aboard the shipwrecked Lord Greystoke, realizing his noble lineage. He starts to piece together the truth of his origin and contemplates claiming his rightful place among humans as John Clayton, the Earl of Greystoke.

Chapter 9:
With Clayton's identity revealed, Tarzan sets sail for London with his newfound human friends, including Jane and her father. He hopes to integrate into society as the rightful heir, yet he also fears the unknown. His struggles with identity and assimilation become focal points of this chapter.

Chapter 10:
In London, Tarzan faces challenges fitting into the society he was born into but has never known. He confronts societal expectations, intellectual limitations, and his own animalistic nature that continues to resonate within him. Despite the difficulties, Tarzan remains determined to prove himself.

Chapter 11:
Tarzan's struggles persist as he becomes acquainted with Sir Archibald Greystoke, his biological cousin, who views him with suspicion and derision. Tarzan uncovers the truth about his parents' demise and confronts his past, leading to a decision that will shape his destiny.

Chapter 12:
Tarzan saves Jane from the clutches of Boris, a Russian spy who intends to marry her for her wealth. Tarzan's heroic act solidifies his bond with Jane and demonstrates his unwavering courage.

1. Nature vs. Nurture: Tarzan's upbringing in the jungle and his subsequent encounter with civilization explore the impact of environment and biology on one's development and identity.
2. Love and Belonging: Tarzan's longing for acceptance, whether as part of the ape tribe or within human society, highlights the fundamental human desire for love, companionship, and a sense of belonging.
3. Identity: The novel delves into the exploration of personal identity, whether it be Tarzan's struggle to reconcile his human and animal nature or his yearning to embrace his noble lineage.

Tarzan of the Apes, a classic early twentieth-century adventure novel, captivates readers with its dynamic plot, memorable characters, and exploration of themes that continue to resonate with modern audiences. Burroughs' work has since become an emblematic part of literary history, paving the way for countless adaptations and establishing Tarzan as one of the most recognizable characters in popular culture.

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