Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

The novel “Lord Jim” by Joseph Conrad is a story about a sailor named Jim who has to go through life trying to put a hideous act of cowardice behind him. He has no place to call his own, and it seems as though his history follows him everywhere he goes. This makes it difficult to keep a job because not only does everyone know what he did, but also he knows that they look at him poorly.

Jim always wanted to be a sailor. He loved the sea, and so he entered a training program for merchants where he excelled. He was injured while on board, and this sets up the story to have Jim aboard a boat called the Patna. This boat held 800 Moslem pilgrims, and Jim was first mate aboard it. One night, the ship hit something in the water and weakened the boat while the Moslems were asleep. Afraid the ship would sink, Jim and the other officers took a lifeboat to safety while the ship went under. They could even hear the screams of horror aboard the ship.

Jim went before a panel for them to determine if he was guilty of leaving them to die or if he could have saved them. They revoked his navel certificate, and Jim’s image of himself and his self-esteem were shattered. A man named Marlow went to Jim and spoke with him about his future and even offered him a job. Jim accepted, but soon after ran away because people remembered his history and he was scared. Eventually, Marlow got in touch with Jim and had a job for him on a trading post in Africa where he could be by himself and no one would bother him. On the way there, he was captured by Rajah Allang and his people. He escaped and made it to a tribe of Malays, headed by Doramin, a friend of Jim’s acquaintance Herr Stein. He felt safe around these people, and even fell in love with one of their women.

When Gentleman Brown came to Patusan, he threatened everything Jim had worked for. He planned on plundering the settlement. Jim talked to him and promised him a safe trip down the river and promised the Malays that nothing bad would happen. But the chief’s son and many others were killed, and Doramin was outraged. Jim returned to the village, knowing he would be punished. When he got there, Doramin shot him in the chest and he died.
I think the major theme of this book is courage. Jim is a good guy who made a terrible mistake and cannot forgive himself for what he has done. He made a cowardly act, but that should not keep him from moving on, yet it does. He was not brave, and that bugged him. In the end, however, by returning to the village to receive his definite fate he shows an amount of courage that one cannot measure.

Conrad is trying to stress the point that good people may do bad things, yet they are still good deep down. He says that other people will forgive you once you forgive yourself because the bad thing you did is not truly you, but a human mistake. It is pointed out that your conscience should not be too heavy if you make a mistake, as long as you learn from it.

Lord Jim is a novel about the growth of one man, trying to outrun his past, only to find out that you cannot take back what you have done, but you can move on. Conrad has made an attempt to show important self-confidence is, and how if you cannot live with yourself, no one else will either.

Les Miserables Themes: Forgiveness, Self Sacrifice, and Courage

It is precisely of him that I wished to speak. Dispose of me as you please; but help me first to carry him home. I only ask that of you. Upon examination of Les Miserables, it is clearly evident that the elements of Forgiveness, Self Sacrifice, and Courage are only a few of the main themes Hugo wanted to develop.

First off, is the element of forgiveness. In a book of mistrust, poverty, and hateforgiveness thrives in the world of Les Miserables. The first example of this was at the very beginning, when Jean Valjean stayed with the bishop. Valjean stole his silverand ran off. He ends up being caught by police, but when the police questioned the bishop, he claimed to have given the silver to Valjean. Jean was confusedand the bishop claimed that with the silver, he had purchased the convicts soul, and had given it to God, and from that day forward, Valjean must be a good man.

Another example of forgiveness goes two ways. Javert, in his relentless pursuit of Valjean, is captured by revolutionaries. In reward for saving the lives of a few of these revolutionaries, Valjean asks for, and gets, permission to take Javert outside, and kill him. Once outside, a small monologue occursand Valjean releases Javert, and lets him go free. Valjean just wanted to be left alone in peace, and hoped this act of kindness would change Javert, and make him realize that Valjean was no longer the man he was. The second wayis that in the end, after Javert finally captures Valjean, he lets him go. Since Javert had broken the law that he loved so dearly, he kills himself shortly thereafter, by jumping into a river.

Secondly, we come to the element of Self-Sacrifice. This is also another widely used theme in Les Miserables. One such example of this element is with Valjean. He lets Marius and Cosette marry, and for a while, he seems all right with that fact. Later on however, he goes to Marius, and confesses to his past. He tells Marius his whole story, and thinks it best if he never sees Cosette again. Marius agreesbut allows Valjean the occasional visit. Only at the end, does Marius realize what a good man Valjean isand by then it was too late.

Valjean dies shortly after Marius and Cosette visit him to ask him to come back and live with them. Another example would be that of Gavroche and his supreme sacrifice. Gavroche is really Thenardiers son. but he was thrown out as a little boy, because he wasnt bringing in any money. So Gavroche befriends the revolutionaries. During one of the battles, Gavroche goes out to pick the pockets of the dead soldiers for ammunition. The soldiers fighting the revolutionaries immediately open firebut cant hit Gavroche. Thinking he is invincible, he begins to mock the soldiers aim.

But, he speaks too soon, and on his way back, he is shot in the back, and dies. And lastly, we have the sacrifice of Eponineone of the daughters of Thenardier. She is in love with Mariusunbeknownst to him. She follows him to the barricades, and while there, saves his life. She put her hand in front of a barrel aimed for Marius, and the bullet went through her hand, and into her body. Of course, this act moves Marius greatly. Eponine admits her love to him, and tells him everything she knows. Before she dies in his arms, she asks him to kiss her on the forehead when she passes onand she says she would feel it. Marius grants her wish.

And finally, we reach the element of Courage. The main kind of courage that will be covered is emotional and physical. The first example is when Valjean must enter Paris by climbing the wall that surrounds the great city. Normally, this would be hard enough for anyone. Valjean however, has one more problem added to this; he has Cosette with him, and she is still a small child. Once he finally reaches the top, and Cosette joins him, they must jump from roof to roof to reach safety.

They finally end up in a Convent, and fortunate for Valjean, it is the one where he knows the Caretaker. So, for the next few years, he and Cosette live in the convent, and have a happy life. NextValjean saves Marius from the barricades. During the end of the battle, Marius is wounded, the barricade is shot to pieces, and the soldiers are moving in to kill anyone who resists. Delirious due to being wounded, Marius begins to think that he should never see Cosette again. Valjean runs over to Marius, and removes him from the area, and escapes with him into the sewers.

As always, Javert is hot on his trail. After walking through a sewer for the entire day, Valjean and Marius escapeto find Thenardier waiting with the key. After cutting a deal to get free, Valjean thinks he is in the clearand then Javert shows up, and arrests him. Valjean showed great courage, and even in the face of extreme danger to himself, he still saved Marius. And finally, Valjean lets Marius and Cosette marry. He knows it will mean that he wont see as much of Cosette as he would like, and he would be lonely. But he also knows it will make her very happy, and in the end, that is all Valjean really wants for her. He does end up dieing because of loneliness in the end, but he dies knowing that he is loved, because Marius and Cosette come to him, and ask him to come backbut as stated earlier, it was already too late.

In conclusion, Les Miserables shows the main themes of Forgiveness, Self-Sacrifice, and Courage. It shows how a persons life can be saved by a simple act of kindnessand how a life can be destroyed by the absence of happiness.