Study Guide

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Foolishness and Folly

By Douglas Adams

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Foolishness and Folly

If you like yelling back at books and movies when characters do foolish things, then have we got a treat for you: on almost every page of Hitchhiker's Guide, characters are doing dumb things. Zaphod is probably the gold medal winner in the Foolishness Olympics, but that doesn't let others off the hook. In fact, in Hitchhiker's Guide, whole groups of people are presented as fools, from the alien Vogons to the ridiculous and delusional philosophers. In Hitchhiker's Guide, almost everyone is a fool, and that's just something we're going to have to learn to live with. Though it might kill us.

Questions About Foolishness and Folly

  1. What character seems most foolish to you and why? For instance, is Zaphod, with his hope of finding Magrathea, more foolish than Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, with his plan to destroy Earth to make a space-road?
  2. In this book, does folly always lead to defeat? Or are there situations where folly might be helpful and lead to success?
  3. How do different characters measure intelligence in this book? How do different species measure intelligence—say, humans vs. mice vs. dolphins?
  4. Does Hitchhiker's Guide ever punish people for being foolish? Does it make being foolish seem like a bad thing? Or is everyone foolish on some level?

Chew on This

Hitchhiker's Guide shows us that intelligence is overrated—foolish people can get along fine as long as they've got some other good quality, like niceness or a stolen spaceship.

Intelligence is the best thing in the universe, but the bummer is that perfect intelligence is impossible in Hitchhiker's Guide.

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