Definition of Adventure

Adventure genre includes stories that are exciting and sometimes risky. The term, adventure, has been derived from the French term, aventure, which means fate or destiny of a person. It has been in use in English since the Middle Ages. In literature, the term adventure is used in combination with a story. An adventure story is a type of story having a hero who goes through various adventures or expeditions including escape, dangerous events, problems, and solutions, journey to unknown lands and participation in battles or skirmishes, etc.

Types of Adventure

Some of the major types of adventures include historical adventure, national adventure, supernatural adventure, romantic adventure, fantasy adventure and sci-fi adventure.

Elements of Adventure

It is stated that an adventure story has six major elements. These are a hero, his quest for deliverance, his encounter with obstacles or troubles, an antagonist against him, the risks that the hero undertakes, and his final transformation. These could be summed up as;

  1. Protagonist or hero
  2. Quest to find a solution of some problem
  3. Problem
  4. An antagonist
  5. Risks taken
  6. Change or Transformation

Examples of Adventure in Literature

Example #1

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

We should have been badly off without the shelter of our tent, for the night proved as cold as the day had been hot, but we managed to sleep comfortably, everyone being thoroughly atigued by the labors of the day. The voice of our vigilant cock, which, as he loudly saluted the rising moon, was the last sound I heard at night, roused me at daybreak, and I then awoke my wife, that in the quiet interval while yet our children slept, we might take counsel together on our situation and prospects. It was plain to both of us that, in the first place, we should ascertain if possible the fate of our late companions, and then examine into the nature and resources of the country on which we were stranded. We therefore came to the resolution that, as soon as we had breakfasted, Fritz and I should start on an expedition with these objects in view, while my wife remained near our landing-place with the three younger boys.

These are the first few lines of The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. The very first sentences show that William and Elizabeth, the family heads of the Robinson family, are looking out for some support on this island. Although this does not show the story of the whole novel, it points out the hero, his quest to find someplace, the problem, and his resolve to solve it. It seems that by the end of the story he would be a transformed man. This is given as the first example of an adventure story.

Example #2

The Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat

So Humphrey continued to mow and make hay, while Edward and Jacob went out for venison. After all the hay was made and stacked, Humphrey found out a method of thatching with fern, which Jacob had never thought of; and when that was done, they commenced cutting down fern for fodder. Here again Humphrey would have twice as much as Jacob had ever cut before, because he wanted litter for the cow. At last it became quite a joke between him and Edward, who, when he brought home more venison than would keep in the hot weather, told Humphrey that the remainder was for the cow. Still Humphrey would not give up the point, and every morning and evening he would be certain to be absent an hour or two,
and it was found out he was watching the herd of wild cattle who were feeding: sometimes they were very near, at others a long way off. He has to get up into the trees, and examine them as they passed under him, without perceiving him.

This passage occurs in the novel of Frederick Marryat, The Children of the New Forest. The children are in the forest finding ways to survive. Different activities that they undertake are meant to ensure their survival. Not only do these activities show adventures but also demonstrate their spirit to surmount them. These are some of the elements of an adventure story present in this passage, showing this novel as an adventure.

Example #3

Harriet Martineau’s The Peasant and the Prince

One fine afternoon in April, 1770, there was a good deal of bustle in the neighbourhood of the village of Saint Menehould, in the province of Champagne, in France. The bride of the Dauphin of France,—the lady who was to be queen when the present elderly king should die—was on her journey from Germany, and was to pass through Saint Menehould to Paris, with her splendid train of nobles and gentry; and the whole country was alive with preparations to greet her loyally as she passed. The houses of the village were cleaned and adorned; and gangs of labourers were at work repairing the roads of the district; —not hired labourers, but peasants, who were obliged by law to quit the work of their own fields or kilns, when called upon, to repair the roads, for a certain number of days.

The incident mentioned in this passage happens in France. It shows the royal journey of the Queen and her welcome in the city. In the description of the passage, the entourage has been shown passing through villages and towns cleared for that specific purpose. Although there are no other elements, it shows that the story will present other elements associated with the prince and the peasant, the main characters of the storyline, later in the storyline.

Example #4

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

He was a very silent man by custom. All day he hung round the cove or upon the cliffs with a brass telescope; all evening he sat in a corner of the parlour next the fire and drank rum and water very strong. Mostly he would not speak when spoken to, only look up sudden and fierce and blow through his nose like a fog-horn; and we and the people who came about our house soon learned to let him be. Every day when he came back from his stroll he would ask if any seafaring men had gone by along the road. At first we thought it was the want of company of his own kind that made him ask this question, but at last we began to see he was desirous to avoid them.

This passage occurs in Treasure Island by Stevenson. The third person narrator presents the hero of the story having a telescope in his hand, trying to find some suitable corner to spy on the people who have lived in that house. This is the description of the hero and his adventure, showing it as an adventure story.

Functions of Adventure

An adventure functions to satisfy the human curiosity of finding something novel, new and interesting. That is why most people align themselves with the characters of the stories they read and come across. Such stories usually lead the people to find solace, pass their time and embark upon similar adventures to satisfy their souls.