Autobiographical Elements of Lord Jim

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Jim and Conrad were sailors in their life

      Jim holds great resemblance to Conrad at several points. Jim, the protagonist, is the self-portrait of the novelist. Though Jim is not Conrad in every respect, he inherits some of the most striking features of Conrad's character Jim's career resembles to a great extent, the career of Conrad. Conrad was On the ships of English merchant navy and, being a foreigner, led a lonely life of a sailor. Jim, too, is presented as an isolated figure because he gets nothing common between himself and the other officers of the ship called 'Patna'. Here, the difference between Jim and Conrad is the fact that Jim's career, as a seaittari, is Very brief but Conrad had spent about seventeen years in the service of English merchant ships.

Other Common Features between Jim and Conrad

      The emotional life of Jim and Conrad is much paralleled. They are so close to each other that few critics regard Jim not only the self portrait of Conrad but Conrad's confession of his own feeling of guilt. When Conrad had left his country and become a sailor on English ships, he developed a sense of guilt. Conrad, subsequently; had acquired British nationality; He had married an English woman. Thus, in doing so, he began to stiffer with self-condemnation because of being false to his own country. Jim's sense of guilt, after leaving 'Patna' at the moment of its collision, is symbolic of Conrad's sense of guilt in deserting his own country. 'Patna' is the symbol of Conrad's motherland, Poland, and Jim's jump into the life-boat projects Conrad's jump out of his racial context. Germany's hostility to Poland is reflected in the German captain's attempt to persuade Jim to desert the ship 'Patna'. Patna's rescue suggests Poland's success in sustaining her identity. Thus, to some extent, Jim's story is the story of Conrad's life.

      Conrad's sense of guilt was not the consequence of any introspection or result of indirect accusation of the people of England, because he had confessed himself a traitor against his country. Jim's sense of guilt is emphasized many times in the novel and here, we feel that Conrad is trying to transfer his own sense of guilt to the hero of the novel, in order to be unburdened. Conrad had tried to seek emotional relief through his transfer of guilt. Jim's shifting from one port to another, to escape the stigma, is symbolic of Conrad's search for his identity, through writing one novel after another. It can also be interpreted as Conrad's endeavor to escape from the criticism, made against him, for leaving his own country. Conrad's establishment, as a popular writer in England, is reflected in Jim's achievements in Patusan. Jim's surrender to Doramin, who killed him, is suggestive of Conrad's attempt to commit suicide.

Other Autobiographical Elements in the Novel

      Conrad had gathered vast knowledge of the sea-ports of Malaysia, Penang and Samarang and the islands of Java and Sumatra. Thus Jim visited these places and his life in Patusan rests upon Conrad's personal experiences. Conrad met several storms during his sea-life but in Lord Jim there is no storm. Jim is not only based on the character of Conrad. Another step, towards establishing the autobiographical element in the novel, is Conrad's accquaintance with a man called Jim Lingard, whom Conrad himself met in his life. He was called "Tuan Jim", by the natives. The Patusan episode of the novel is based upon Conrad's personal knowledge of James Brooke's adventures.

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