Conrad's Philosophy of Life in the Novel Lord Jim

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Conrad's Pessimistic Approach Towards Life

      Conrad, a pessimist, is ranked just next to Hardy in the domain of novels. Conrad, in most of his novels, concentrates on the dark and dull facet of life. Very rarely do we find the emphasis on the bright aspect of human life in Conrad's novels. For Conrad, life is not full of enthusiasm, hope, aspirations, exaltation etc. but it is full of miseries and sufferings, disappointments and frustrations. But Conrad's pessimism is not inborn or temperamental like that of Hardy. His pessimism occurs in, mainly, his personal experiences of life. He became an orphan at a very early stage in his life, his family was exiled and he suffered miserably from isolation. He suffered from poverty; public disgrace and dejection. Thus we find a grim and serious picture of life in his novels. Conrad was not of the opinion that misfortunes come on account of man's fault and mistakes, but due to the cruelty of Fate.

Lord Jim: A Pessimistic Novel

      Lord Jim shows Conrad's pessimistic approach towards life. It deals with the story of a most conscientious and sensitive man who, most of the time, indulged in harboring romantic dreams of heroic adventures. He starts his career as a sea-man and soon becomes the chief-mate of 'Patna'. But all his high aspirations were put to an end when he jumps from 'Patna' in order to save his own life at the moment of disaster. Of course, he did dial after a good deal of hesitation but he, ultimately, has violated the code of honor and this misconduct, results in the haunting sense of guilt. He feels spiritually tormented and faces severe self-reproachment. This feeling is further aggravated by the court's verdict that disqualifies all the officers of 'Patna' against holding any job on ship. Subsequently, Jim re-establishes himself in a remote country and achieves the highest rank of respect, love and honor. But again, he commits a blunder in letting Brown retreat harmlessly and for this, he has to pay with his life.

Jim's Tragic Flaw: Idealism

      Tragic flaw means the particular weakness in the character which leads a man towards his catastrophe. The tragic flaw in Jim is his excessive idealism. He is such a romantic dreamer who always nourishes dreams of heroic adventures-saving people from sinking ships, quelling mutinies of sea-life, confronting savages on the shore. Stein, a German trader, regards him a 'romantic' whose world is in the fulfillment of dreams. Jim too, has fulfilled his dreams but he fails to sustain his achievements because of his idealistic temperament. He commits a blunder in trusting the swindler, Brown. Brown's mention of something 'fishy' reminds Jim of his misconduct during 'Patna' episode and he, getting scared of the disclosure of that incident, persuaded the authority to let Brown and his men go back harmlessly. In order to enliven his idea of fidelity, he goes to confess his responsibility for the death of Dain Waris, the son of Doramin, in Patusan. The chief, Doramin; shoots Jim dead in order to take revenge.

The Hostile Role of Fate and Evil in Human Life

      The novel, Lord Jim, describes the spiritual turmoil of a man of honor for whom we feel great sympathy. He certainly has his flaws but his sad end is due to other causes, as well. One of the other causes is evil in men like Brown and Cornelius. Another cause is the malevolence of Fate. It plays a great role in bringing misfortune to Jim. First, Destiny shows its hostility through the accident that 'Patna' meets. Though nature was favorable that time; when the ship started sailing, the sea was calm, peaceful and tranquil, yet Patna collided against a submerged ship. It is Fate that sends Brown, the scoundrel and swindler, to Patusan. Brown, instigated by Conrelius, brings the tragic downfall to Jim.

Conrad is not a Cyhic

      Conrad should not be called a cynic. Though he believes in the wickedness of human nature, he is not alien to the nobility of human beings. Jim is, ho doubt, a noble train. Marlow is a man of highest integrity, very compassionate, helpful and friendly. Tamb Item and Jewel possess the rare quality of fidelity.

The Cosmopolitan or Liberal Outlook of Conrad and Marlow

      Conrad had traveled a lot, visited various nations and islands. Thus there had developed, a cosmopolitan outlook in him. Marlow, in Lord Jim, possesses a catholic and liberal outlook. In this novel, we come across, various persons from different nations. For example, the captain of 'Patna' and Marlow's friend, Stein, are Germans; Chester is Australian; the officers who had rescued 'Patna' were French; 'Patna' belongs to a Chinese and hired by Arab. The passengers of 'Patna' are Muslims; Cornelius is half-breed Portuguese and Jewel is of a mixed origin. Jim, Brown and Marlow are Europeans. Thus, we see so many characters of different nationalities.

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