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.

The Irony in Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim

Lord Jim was written by Joseph Conrad in 1900. Lord Jims tale is a lesson in life. It includes many key literary aspects; the main one, nevertheless, would be irony. With parts of the story exhibiting heroic redemption and others cowardice and shortcomings, it shows the vast conflicts that take place in the story. Lord Jim shows the many hardships the main character,Tuan Jim or Lord Jim, had to go through with great detail. Lord Jim tests the basic worth of a man and the truth that lies within ones soul. The central irony in this book balances itself upon morality and guilt with a tragic result.

Jims soul continued to torture itself for the betrayal he performed when he left the Patna to sink. Jims soul would forever punish him for the unspeakable act he committed when he left the Patna to sink. As so, Jim was destined to live the rest of his life in misery when he left the eight hundred passengers to die. The Patna incident caused a chain of self hatred and self loathing that would go on until Jims death. Jims ever churning soul made him very unhappy. Fighting constantly within himself made Jim experience extreme guilt and anguish.

The way Jim struggled on the inside caused Jim to seem lack luster and lazy on the outside. If Jim would have been more at peace with his soul he would not have been in such pain. Being that Jim was somewhat innocent when he first became a water clerk aboard the Patna; he lacked the mental toughness that would be crucial in key situations. With virtue and perseverance Jim struggled on. Trying to find his inner self and to become a good sailor was important to Jim. Forced into maturing because of the importance of his job; Jim often felt isolated and alone.

But his love for the sea kept him going even in tough times; ironically it would be the same love that would lead to his destruction. Indeed, Jim had a great love for the sea. He respected it and its powers. Although it took a tragic event to learn the seas authoritative powers , Jim still admired it. The sea was Jims motivation and his passion. The sea kept him going mentally through tough times by and yet it kept him moving physically from port to port and finally to the small island he would call home. Jim may not have died the way he did with out his love for the sea; this adds to the irony of the story.

Without his desire to be around the sea , the tragic event of the Patna would not have involved him, but fate thought otherwise. The event of the Patnas potential fatal sinking changed Jim’s’ whole life. It caused him to struggle mentally for years on end , always torturing his soul for the cowardly act he committed. It was fate and destiny for Jims character to be tested and in the end it failed. People from that point on looked at Jim different. He felt he was a disgrace to himself and to his family.

Not knowing why he choose to jump into the life boat at the last second made Jim second guess himself as a person. He was left with no money, no job, and no future as a sailor. Jim was left on his own. Experiencing betrayal at its peak caused Jim to wonder. Never wanting to go through the pain again and afraid to commit to something with such a great responsibility Jim s soul was forever tormented. Yet, Jim was left eternally empty, without honor and struggling to overcome his own disgrace after the Patna incident. Jim felt such heartache and a great need to redeem his soul that he exiled himself from society.

Moving from port to port whenever someone found out his ghastly secret. Ashamed and branded a coward , Jim hid from his problems instead of dealing with them. Jim always felt the need to set right what he did wrong and prove that he was not a coward. When Jim finally found a society that would except him with his grave past , he felt the need to make every thing go smoothly and without problems. Doing so causes Jim to be very sheltered about the things he does with the tribe. When something does go wrong Jim over exerts himself into making it right.

This feeling that he always has something he needs to set right is one of the main things that leads to his death. If Jim did not feel that he owed society something in a sense he would have never tried so hard to set things right with the tribe in the end. Jim had felt that he had lost his honor. Without his honor Jim struggled to feel like a whole man. This brings up a key aspect of the book and one of the most important questions: what may life be worth when honor is gone? (Lord Jim) Jim felt that he had nothing to stand for in life. A man with out his honor is a man that is torn in two.

Caught between how his soul felt and how society choose to see him; Jim was a very unhappy person. Jim had very little integrity left. This caused him to feel insignificant when he applied himself to every day tasks. Without his honor Jim questioned his mortality. Society sets rules of conformity and generally accepted standards of conduct. Jim felt he had broken them thus again causing him to question his mortality and basic worth as a man. This questioning added to the all round irony of Lord Jim if Jim felt he had his honor he would have behaved as a normal man but instead he felt he had lost his honor leaving him a broken man.

If Jim felt he had his honor he would have not felt the need to die for tribe member that was murdered. Thus, dying a very noble death and showing through it all he did in fact have his honor. This in part is the main irony of Lord Jim. The irony of this book is that Jim felt disgraced and wretched. He considered himself to be a total failure, worthless to everyone. Unable to live with himself anymore, Jim chooses suicide and in doing so died in a way that meant something. But really his life was not as bad as he thought it was; no one died from his mistakes and yet he tortured his soul for them.