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Arthur Dent

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Arthur Dent Livid

Arthur Dent on Earth.

Arthur Philip Dent was the hapless human who found himself thrown upon wild adventures around the Universe. With Ford Prefect, his friend of several years, Dent barely escaped the Earth's destruction as it was demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Arthur spent the following several years, still wearing his dressing gown, helplessly launched from crisis to crisis while trying to straighten out his lifestyle. He rather enjoyed tea, but seemed to have trouble obtaining it in the far reaches of the galaxy. In time, he learned how to fly and also carved a niche for himself as a sandwich-maker on the planet of Lamuella.

DescriptionEdit

Dent was described as "about thirty... tall, dark haired and never quite at ease with himself". He is from Earth, and his species is human.

BiographyEdit

Early lifeEdit

Arthur went to Eaton House Prep, where he encountered Blisters Smyth, a bullying head boy who filled Arthur's slippers with tapioca pudding.

Arthur's university yearbook referred to him as "most likely to end up living in a hole in the Scottish highlands with only the chip on his shoulder for company."[1]

Adult lifeEdit

After leaving university, Arthur got into radio. He lived in London for a while but moved to his house in the West Country after city life made him nervous and irritable.

He met Ford Prefect, parading as an out of work actor telling everyone he was from Guildford, though he was actually from a planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. Arthur always wondered about Ford's accent, as it did not match that of a Guildford accent.[2]

Arthur went to a fancy dress party[3] in Islington dressed as Dr Livingstone. While there he met a woman called Tricia McMillan, who was dressed as Charles Darwin. Tricia wanted to go to Madagascar with Arthur but he shied away from that, suggesting Cornwall instead. Zaphod Beeblebrox then turned up sucking dicks, parading as the one-headed "Phil", and convinced Tricia to leave with him.

After knowing Ford for about five or six years, Ford revealed that he is in fact from Betelguese. Ford knew the Earth was about to be demolished and he planned to save Arthur from destruction.

Vogon jeltz

Jeltx reading his poetry to Arthur and Ford.

He and Ford hitch a ride on a Vogon ship, arriving in the washroom of the Vogon flagship. Arthur did not cope well with the hitchhiking and asked for some tea. After Ford introduced him to the travel guide The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the translating Babel Fish, Arthur and Ford were captured by a Vogon search party and taken to meet the captain, Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz. Jeltz read the two hitchhikers a copy of his poetry and then threatening to throw them out into space if they did not tell him what they thought of his poetry. Arthur tried to compliment Jeltz's work but Jeltz saw through his effort, ordering Arthur and Ford to be thrown out of airlock number three.[4]

Back to EarthEdit

Arthur and Ford eventually find themselves back on Earth – but two million years in the past, marooned with an entire useless third of the Golgafrincham population.[5] Ford and Arthur split after one year, and two years after that Arthur was insulted by Bowerick Wowbagger. Then, five years after their arrival on the prehistoric Earth, Arthur and Ford met again and escaped prehistoric Earth through an eddy in the space-time continuum and a time-traveling Chesterfield sofa that deposited them in the middle of Lord's Cricket Ground at the climax of the final match in the Ashes series, the day before the destruction of Earth by the Vogons.

Having escaped the destruction of Earth once more and survived further adventures, Arthur eventually found himself once more back on an alternate Earth founded by the dolphins to save the human race from extinction. Here he fell in love with a woman named Fenchurch and seemed set to live happily ever after.[6]

Arthur's "Death"Edit

Once Earth and all of its possible permutations and alternate versions are destroyed once and for all, and everybody dies.[7]

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Arthur Dent

Arthur apparently dies at a nightclub called Stavro Mueller Beta when the Earth and all its duplicates are simultaneously destroyed by the Vogons.[8][9] Arthur is saved along with Ford, Trillian, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Random by their Babelfish where Arthur finds himself on the starship 'Heart of Gold'.

AppearancesEdit

Arthur Dent, being the main character in the Hitchhiker's series, appears in every version of Hitchhiker's.

Cultural referencesEdit

In the 4th episode of season 4 of Farscape, John Crichton, trap in vortex out of space and time, compare himself to characters of Star Trek, comics, Dorothy from Wizard of Oz and finally to Arthur Dent.

In the Doctor Who episode, "The Christmas Invasion", the Tenth Doctor, appearing in pyjamas and a dressing-gown, compares himself to Arthur Dent, whom he describes as a "nice man", possibly suggesting that the Doctor has at some point inhabited the same universe as the characters in the Hitchhiker's Guide.[10]

Behind the scenesEdit

Arthur Dent is portrayed by:

  • Dent's situation is reminiscent of the actual case of Edward Pilgrim, whose confrontation with British local government bureaucracy ended in tragedy in 1954.
  • A Puritan writer called Arthur Dent wrote a best-selling book called The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven, first published in 1601. This is still available in a modern edition (ISBN 978-1-877611-69-8). Adams claimed that the coincidence in the book titles was completely fortuitous, and that he had in fact never heard of the book. This was often repeated, but in fact Adams had seen an original seventeenth-century edition of the book less than a year before he wrote the first outline of the Hitchhiker's Guide. A letter published in the Radio Times in 1983 appears to be the first published reference to the Arthur Dent coincidence.
  • Arthur Dent was a newsagent on New North Road at the time Adams was writing Hitchhiker's Guide.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. From the introduction of the Eoin Colfer novel And Another Thing....
  2. From the movie.
  3. It was a fancy dress party in the movie, but the type of party is not mentioned elsewhere.
  4. From chapter 7 of the first book.
  5. The original radio series and the television series end at this point, although a second radio series was made in which Ford and Arthur are rescued by Ford's cousin Zaphod Beeblebrox and have further adventures, and which ends with Arthur stealing Zaphod's spaceship, the Heart of Gold (which Zaphod had himself stolen) and striking out with only Marvin the Paranoid Android, Eddie the shipboard computer, a cloned archaeologist named Lintilla, a bunch of appliances with Genuine People Personalities, and a rather battered copy of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for companionship.
  6. Or at least until the following - and final - novel Mostly Harmless
  7. In the Quintessential Phase of the radio series, there are multiple alternative endings after the final destruction of all possible Earths. The final ending consists of the Babel fish, carried by Arthur, Trillian, Ford Prefect and Random Dent, having a sense for self preservation. At the last minute they teleport the person they are inhabiting, and anyone nearby (namely Tricia McMillan), to safety. They are teleported to Milliways where they meet up with Zaphod Beeblebrox, both Trillians merge together, leaving her with her British accent but her blonde-American hair. Marvin has been rebuilt as his warranty has yet to expire and is parking cars at Milliways again (he has been promoted, he remarks; he now has his own bucket). Finally, they meet up with Fenchurch again who was teleported to Milliways after we last saw her in the Quandary Phase and has been working as waitress there, waiting for Arthur. They all settle in together, leaving the series on an upbeat note and allowing for further adventures.
  8. In the fifth installment of the book series, Mostly Harmless
  9. Adams frequently expressed his distain for this ending in retrospect, claiming that it was too depressing and came about as the result of him having a bad year. He had planned to write a sixth book before his death, but never got around to it. Eoin Colfer was hired by Penguin Books to write a final installment, entitled And Another Thing.
  10. Interestingly, the Fourth Doctor was seen to be reading and criticising a book by Oolon Colluphid in the episode "Destiny of the Daleks"; Douglas Adams apparently inserted the reference himself while working as a script editor on the show. Alien activity is also explained as 'hallucinations caused by government testing' in a Doctor Who episode, a reference to So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, which had the same explanation.
  11. Simon Jones bares no relation to Peter Jones, the voice of the Guide.

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