She: A History of Adventure

She: A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard is a story of, clearly, adventure and travel. The story’s main characters, Horace Holly and Leo Vincey, travel to eastern Africa following the instructions in the “Sherd of Amenartas” Leo’s father, Vincey, left for Holly years earlier before he passed away. However, the duo (with their servant, Job) is shipwrecked. They survive, but are later captured by the savage Amahaggar peoples, who are led by a mysterious queen who is worshipped as “She who must be obeyed.”

Once in this tribe, things do not go well for our trio. The Amahaggar people are a group of cannibals, and while their leader, Billali, has taken them under his wing to introduce them into the ways of their people, the others are not so sure. After Billali leaves one night to go and tell She (Ayesha) that there are new arrivals, the tribe grows restless and attacks one of the men with Holly, Vincey, and Job (named Mahomed) and intends to eat him as part of their ritual “hotpot.” Holly, intending to protect his fellow men, starts attacking and shooting members of the tribe to save Mahomed. Vincey, however, is gravely hurt during the attack and is only saved when Billali returns, telling the members of the tribe that the newcomers are now under the protection of She.

The men then travel to meet the powerful Ayesha, and discover the many talents she possesses: incredible knowledge in chemistry, immortality, incredible beauty that enchants any man who beholds it, mind reading abilities, and the ability to heal wounds and cure illnesses. Once she re-veils herself and Holly can control his thoughts again, he insists that Ayesha come and meet Leo so that she can heal him. Once she meets him, she is positive that Leo is her reincarnated lover, Kallikrates, and insists that they make a trip to make him immortal and live forever together. However, when Leo sees the bath of lava that he must lie in to become immortal, he gets frightened. Ayesha, trying to show Leo that he will not be hurt, steps into the Spirit of Life and the magic keeping her immortal is undone and shows her for her true age. At the sight of Ayesha withering away in front of them, Job dies in fright. Ayesha’s last words to Leo, however, were “I die not. I shall come again.”

Haggard’s story definitely reminded me of other stories we have read this semester, mainly Gulliver’s Travels and Robinson Crusoe. I was reminded of Gulliver’s Travels through the new cultures that were introduced and learning the ways of a new people, and Robinson Crusoe mainly through the shipwreck. I think the main connection I found was with Gulliver’s Travels by the way that Gulliver was introduced to new cultures and ways of living in the same way that Holly and his men were. The men were thrust into a new society with a culture completely different than their own (I mean, they were cannibals!). Luckily, they had someone on their side, both Billali and She, who helped them on their way.

Advertisements