Where Does Tarzan Take Place?

June 1, 2023

A man raised by gorillas must decide where he really belongs when he discovers that he’s human.

Orphaned as an infant, shipwrecked off the coast of Africa and rescued by a compassionate female gorilla named Kala, Tarzan is raised in the close-knit family of her clan as one of their own. He possesses an innate understanding of the apes, as well as some of the language and culture of humans. As he grows into adulthood he usurps the position of alpha male, Kerchak and becomes King of the Jungle. Then Englishwoman Jane Porter and her duplicitous guide, Clayton, arrive in his isolated green realm and he falls in love with her. Then he learns that his real name is John Clayton, Viscount Greystoke and that he’s the heir to an ancient British title.

There is no mention of a specific location in the story, but some clues suggest West Africa. This region is home to many ape and gorilla sanctuaries, including Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Benin, and Niger.

There is no explicit time period either but the clues in the story, as well as the general state of the world at that point (the British were colonizing Africa), suggest that it’s somewhere around 1912 or earlier. This was just a few years after Edgar Rice Burroughs published his first Tarzan novel in All-Story Magazine. His character would eventually grow into a series of books and movies as we know them today.


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