Neverwhere by Neil Gamin follows the chronicles of Richard Mayhew through the dangerous and magical London Below, a world running parallel to the real London. It was originally made as a television series, and was later adapted into a novel. Throughout the novel Richard is on a journey of self-discovery, and goes from being a fearful coward into a brave friend, and begins to understand what he truly wants in his life. Richard begins this path to enlightenment as he starts to make his own decisions and take control of his life.
He also learns to overcome, mainly his fear of the unknown and tries to understand what he does and does not know about the world of London Below so that he can face challenges set before him. Lastly, his journey in London Below causes him to discover what kind of person he is and what he wants for his life. The journey that Richard makes through London Below helps to enlighten him to become the person he truly wants to be by giving him control of his life, overcoming his fears, and helps him find what kind of life he wants to live.
Richard’s journey to self-discovery begins with him making his own choice. In the beginning of the novel, it is quite clear that Richard has very little control of what he wants to do. His fiancee seems to have the control over him, and he has almost no input in his relationship. The line “And Jessica saw in Richard an enormous amount of potential, which, properly harnessed by the right woman, would have made him the perfect matrimonial accessory” (Gamin Okrainetz 2 8) shows how Richard is just seen as an object for his fiancee to toy with to be more successful.
It is not until Richard makes the choice of helping the badly beaten Door that he actually starts to stop taking orders from his fiancee and make his own decisions. These decisions that Richard makes come to define his true character throughout the story. The choices he makes in London Below make him more of an independent man. He chooses to venture into London Below so that he can reclaim his life back. Richard decides to help Door in finding her family’s killers. The two most important choices he makes though are staying with Door to defeat the beast, and returning to London Below after he gets his old life back.
When the marquis says, “‘”Look, Richard. I’m taking Hunter. But if you want to wait here, well, no one could accuse you of cowardice” (Gamin 166) and Richard decides to help Door instead, it shows Richard’s true inner bravery and character. This choice defines Richard’s true character because even with everyone else abandoning Door, Richard is the one who decides to stay loyal, even if that means death for him. The second choice that is pivotal to Richard’s selfdiscovery is when he decides to go back to the world of London Below.
Even with his old life back and better than before, Richard’s journey in London Below revealed that the person he was there is the person that he wants to be. These choices that Richard makes throughout his journey give him independence. The tougher choices that Richard makes also show where Richard’s true values really lie. Lastly, they give him the moment to be brave and face the unknown. Richard overcoming his fear of the unknown allows him to show the courage that lies deep within him. This fear of the unknown comes from the world of London Below, as it is a world that is dangerous, unfamiliar, and strange to Richard.
The journey Richard makes through this world gives the opportunity for the reader to see if Richard’s true character is that of a Okrainetz 3 coward or a hero. It is seen throughout the novel that Richard is the latter. Instead of being scared and troubled by his situation, Richard tries to overcome his fear of this unknown place and try to learn what he really needs to be afraid of. He does this by asking as many questions as he can, and tries to understand all the answers that he receives.
This helps Richard in finding out bout the unknown, and allows him to understand his fear and suppress it. An example of him doing this is when “Richard began to understand darkness: darkness as something solid and real, so much more than a simple absence of light. He felt it touch his skin, questing, moving, exploring:gliding through his mind. It slipped into his lungs, behind his eyes, into his mouth… ” (Gamin 57). This knowledge gives Richard more confidence as he progresses through the journey. Richard does not apply this method of asking questions to face his fears when he is faced with his greatest fear the beast.
The beast terrorizes Richard in his dreams, and it is a fear that he cannot understand. This allows Richard’s fear to manifest and grow within himself when faced with the prophecy of his nightmares such as “He was deep in the sewers, lost in a labyrinth. The Beast was waiting for him. He could hear a slow drip of water. He knew the Beast was waiting” (Gamin 57). It is when he is faced with the beast that he discovers his bravery. Richard’s demonstration of courage here shows reveals his true self, because even when he is faced with his greatest fear, he is still able to fight.
Fear of the unknown from the setting of London Below allows Richard to realize that he can build his confidence if he allows himself to understand the world around him. He can reveal the true threats of the world instead of being afraid of every little thing he does not understand. Even when faced with the beast, the manifestation of fear of the unknown, Richard is able to face it and reveal to himself his true character, a brave man. Okrainetz 4 When London Below changes Richard’s character into this brave and courageous friend, he realizes that London Below is the place that he belongs to.
Richard’s main goal throughout the novel is to return to his home London Above, and at when he gets his wish he realizes that is not what he wants, and Richard discovers that London Below is his true home. The moment that Richard set foot into London Below, his only goals were to return home to London Above and return to his normal life. This is finally granted to him at the end of the novel, and Richard realizes that the world of London Below has changed him, and that a normal life is not what he wants.
The quote “Have you ever got everything you ever wanted? And then realized it wasn’t what you wanted at all? ” (Gamin 200) shows how Richard has found out what he wants from his life. He discovers that all he wants to do is go back to the world of London Below. Richard realizes in that moment that his life in London Above is not what he thought it was, it was just a facade. He understands that the person who he was in London Below expresses who he really wants to be, and he can not be that person in London Above.
When he gets back to his home of London Above he can not unpack his bags and “As the days went on, he felt increasingly guilty about not unpacking them. But he did not unpack them” (Gamin 194). This shows how he does not belong in London Above. He does not want a normal life in London Above, but would rather have the exhilarating and strange life back in London Below. Richard can not stop thinking about his time in London Below, and how the man that he was down there is the man he wants to be for the rest of his life. When Richard is given the option to return to London Below, he takes it without hesitation.
And they walked away together through the hole in the wall, back into the darkness, leaving nothing behind them; not even the doorway” (Gamin 202) shows how Richard did not care about his normal life anymore, Okrainetz 5 and that he could live the life he truly wants for himself. This expresses how Richard found the life he wanted to lead. His journey through London Below switched his perspective and changed him as a person, and he realized that the person that he had become was the one he wanted to be for the rest of his life.
When faced with the choice to return to London Below or pretend to like his normal life, he went back to London Below, because he knew that was the place where he had found his true self. It is also the final decision that defines Richard as a character, and how his journey has completely changed the person he was at the start of the novel. Richard’s journey through the world of London Below reveals his true character by making him make tough decisions that define his values, to overcome his fear of the unknown world of London Below to show his courage, and to show him what he wants for his life.
The choices that Richard makes through his adventure allow him to regain control of his life that was taken away from him by his fiancee. The world of London Below is strange and scary to Richard, but it allows him to channel the courage that lies within him to face his fears. Lastly, Richard’s adventure in London Below shifts he perspective on what he wants in life, and he ultimately chooses the life in London Below, because that is where he found himself. Richard Mayhew’s revelation of his true self shows how an extraordinary journey can change a character and their whole outlook on life.