Almayer's Folly: by Joseph Conrad - Summary & Analysis

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Summary

      Almayer's Folly was published in 1895. The British consciousness of world wide responsibility had stimulated trust in different parts of the world and in people and things remote from accidental experience. The personality of Almayer remained shadowy, but Conrad probed into character and motive. The style is lush and over-written but there was promise in the gorgeous descriptions of the tropical environment and in the portrayal of the native of the Malay peninsula.

      An Enchanting Tragedy. Almayer, a solitary European married a native woman. He was living in the remote Dutch possession, in the East. Almayer had gone through all the bitter experiences of a life long exile among an interior race. Amid all his struggles and reverses, he had been cheered up by the hope of returning, some day, to his far off land in Holland. He was wealthy enough to secure, for himself, a comfortable and contented life. Living among these natives, he became a semi-barbarian and the novelist has presented everything very faithfully and realistically.

      Almayer was blessed with a daughter to whom he had a great devotion. He was leading an obscure and disgraceful exile. He violated all the laws for the sake of his daughter. Hence the tragedy of his life overwhelmed him. The beautiful girl was educated as a Christian among white people, but at the end, the savagery in her character and nature began to dominate her. She gave up her father's house for the abominable luxury of Malayan harem. The tragedy is very effective and impressive because the tone is very reticent.

Analysis

      Valuable Contribution to the History of the English Novel. The theme is highly admirable. Written during the heyday of the Western Imperialism, it explores, not merely an individual idea, but also deals with the subtle idea of the central and ruling motive. Almayer sapped moral and mental powers. It is a very unique idea that he showed great affection to Nina, born of a Malay wife. She had the blood of a whiteman but Nina subdued her education and early training among her father's people. She was now under the ineradicate instinct of the Malay mother. Civilization was set aside. She became the victim of Malay love for whom Nina abandoned her loving European father.

      In Almayer's Folly, Conrad comes out as a great creative artist with regard to novelty of color, robust dramatic force, fresh scenes and characters and exclusive and noble handlings of life's greatness and trivialities, as well. The solemn and languid environment of a semi-civilized life is well depicted. All the chief characters-Almayer, his wife; Nina and her lover are well-portrayed and especially the parting between father and daughter imprints a very pathetic impression on the reader's mind on account of being very natural, touching and unrestrained by any digressions.

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