A protagonist is defined as a leading character in a written piece. The protagonist in a novel sets the story and frequently leads the plot. The protagonists can be analyzed to reveal the moral or meaning of a story. In the following essay, four main characters will be analyzed from E.M. Forester’s A Passage to India, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
In E.M. Forester’s A Passage to India, the main character, Dr. Aziz, is a Moslem doctor living in Chandrapore. He is a widower with three children who meets Mrs. Moore, an aged English widow who has three children herself and becomes friends with her. Even though Dr. Aziz is a munificent and caring man towards his English friends, after Adela Quested charges him with assault he becomes bitter, vindictive and developed more than hard feelings towards the British. When Ms. Quested experiences a mental collapse, the British assume that her circumstance was the result of sexual molestation and falsely accuse Dr. Aziz of this crime. When Dr. Aziz is found not guilty, he builds up a relentless hatred, not only for the British, but also for his own attorney. Dr. Aziz’s newfound viewpoint is an immediate response to his discrimination and in this sense is a product of English colonialism.
A primary concern of A Passage to India is the change of Dr. Aziz’s thoughts of the British, from a bit submissive to an aggressive viewpoint. In due course, Dr. Aziz realizes that he must judge and undertake the English on a personal and an individual basis. To carry this out, his attitude toward the English should be based on his direct experience with people, not on whether or not they are a European or an Indian.
One of the major themes of E. M. Forster’s novel is cultural misunderstanding. Contradictory cultural ideas and expectations dealing with hospitality, social proprieties, and the role of religion in daily life are responsible for misunderstandings between the English and the Indians. Aziz tells Fielding at the conclusion of the novel, “It is useless discussing Hindus with me. Living with them teaches me no more. When I think I annoy them, I do not. When I think I don’t annoy them, I do”. E.M. Forster shows how repeated misunderstandings can turn into cultural stereotypes and are often used to validate the uselessness of attempts to try to bring different cultures together.
The novel Lord Jim is the tale of Jim, an overly romantic seaman, who during a moment of crisis loses his courage. Lord Jim is the story of a young ship’s officer who makes an incomprehensible mistake. Jim was the first mate on a pilgrim ship on its way to Mecca. After the ship collides with an unseen object, it becomes in danger of sinking. Jim abandons the ship, leaving the human cargo to fend for themselves. Jim was branded a coward and stripped of his license as a sailor, and was unable to bear the disgrace attached to his life for a brief moment of cowardice. He is dogged by the guilt of what he did and spends years drifting around the East trying to find a way to redeem himself.
Eventually, he ends up in the forests of Malaysia where he becomes a god-like protector of the natives and is given the label of “Lord.” Even though he was given this title and he his followers consider him a success, he is not able to forget his moment of weakness. Jim’s egocentricity stops him from going on with his life and condemns him to a life of voluntary exile, the whole time believing that he is not good enough to live in the outside world. He is willing to risk any future happiness and fortune to be able to face his demons once again without losing his nerves. Ironically, it is Jim’s last “heroic” act that destroyed all the good that Jim had built up, essentially bringing chaos to his world.
Lord Jim’s tale is presented as a lesson to everyone. Just because an individual does something wrong doesn’t mean that they can run away from their problems. After a life of torturing himself, for his perceived cowardice and shortcomings, Jim receives a chance at redemption. For his lonely display of honor and bravery, he receives a bullet in the chest. Yet, did he have another option? He could run away from his predicament again and choose life. The reward for this action, another start somewhere else where he would torture himself the rest of his life or until he failed again. In the end, there was no other choice for Jim. He was compelled to act because the alternative of escape that he had been living was already worse than the death his actions would bring on. Unable to live with the guilt any longer, Jim chooses suicide. It seems that Conrad suggests to us that reaching perfection is less important than learn to accept ourselves as we are.
Wuthering Heights is a novel written by Emily Bronte that is full of love, hate and revenge. This is a tale about Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff and the peculiar love that they share. Brought together as children, Catherine and Heathcliff quickly become attached to each other. As they grow older, their companionship turns into obsession. Family, class, and fate work brutally against the two of them, as do their own jealous and volatile natures, and much of their lives are spent in revenge and frustration. Their love changes in many ways, taking many different forms, from anger, to happiness, to violence. Their love changes due to the people that come in and out of both of their lives, making them different. Through the book, though, Catherine and Heathcliff are able to find ways to share their love.
Heathcliff’s main goal in this novel was revenge. Despite his love for his beloved Cathy, Heathcliff wants a desperate revenge upon her family. It was, after all, her family who supposedly ruined his life. When Cathy’s father brings home a dirty orphan, did not know what to think. As the two got older, Cathy and Heathcliff fell in love. One day, Cathy goes away and doesn’t come back for a while. When she finally comes back to visit, she has fallen in love with Edgar Linton, a rich, upper-class man. This makes Heathcliff exceedingly jealous. When Cathy is lying on her deathbed, she tells Heathcliff she loves him, and when she dies Heathcliff tells her to haunt him and to never leave him. It is a demonstration of undying love and the extents that people will go to for the one that they love.
The Great Gatsby is a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby’s impracticable passion for the young Daisy Buchanan. The pair meets five years before the novel begins. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means–and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. “Her voice is full of money,” Gatsby says, in one of the novel’s famous quotations.
The narrator of the story, Nick Carraway comes from a well-to-do Midwestern family. He comes to New York to enter the bond business, and becomes involved with the affair between Gatsby and the Buchanans. Although seemingly honest, responsible, and fair, Nick nevertheless shares some of the less desirable traits of his acquaintances. He can be equally careless with others’ emotions. Yet among the characters he is the only one who realizes the greatness of Gatsby compared to his contemporaries. Nick showed any of the sensibility that there was throughout the novel. Even though Nick represented the middle class striving to raise their status, he maintained his ground.
Through the experiences that he had gone through being with the high society, there was a major turning point for him. Nick realized that the corrupt and shallow class had absolutely no morals. From there he moved back West, too afraid that he may experience what Gatsby had experienced. Jay Gatsby on the other hand, was somewhat of a mystery man. He was a mystery because he was never seen directly, only through other people’s perceptions. Nobody really knew his identity or him as a person. Gatsby was on a quest in search of something that meant his whole life to him. He wanted to relive the past that he had with Daisy and didn’t stop for a second to come back to reality, even though other people told him otherwise.