Gentleman Brown: Character Analysis in Lord Jim

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Brown: A Villain and "Unspeakable Scoundrel"

      Brown's role is of great importance because he stands contrary to Marlow and Stein who have helped Jim a lot in his rehabilitation whereas Brown brings ultimate ruin and destruction to the life of Jim. He is most wicked and abominable character of the novel. As Curie says: 'Gentleman Brown' is one of the most abominable figures in literature, and all the more abominable in that he had a diabolic capacity for ferreting out the weak points in others and could cunningly act a part which, while appearing not to make himself out to be other than what he was, gave a slant to his words, and an air of frankness to his manner, which could deceive even those who felt him to be an unspeakable scoundrel?'

Brown: An Incarnation of Evil

      According to Walter Allan, Brown is the embodiment of evil in the novel. Though he was instigated by Cornelius, yet he would not have heeded Cornelius's treacherous advice if he, himself, had not possessed devilish constitution of mind. After arriving at Patusan, he began to nourish his dream to be invincible at Patusan; and the strategy suggested by Cornelius, was considered by him, favorable to his inclination. Thus, inspite of the fact that Brown was inspired by Cornelius to ruin Jim for being the ruler of Patusan, he himself was utterly selfish, ambitious, mischievous and wicked.

      Few critics say that Brown symbolizes not "only the evil outside but also evil within Jim'. Brown had betrayed Jim and violated the code of honor by making an attack on Dain Waris and the group of Bugis Community. This symbolizes his evil outside. As far as his symbolic interptation of evil within Jim is concerned, he reminds Jim of something fishy in his (Jim's) life. This made Jim very lenient towards Brown and fearing the disclosure of that stigma, he decided to let Brown retreat, provided with enough food and other necessities. Brown acted as if he were turning back but betrayed the code of honor and attacked Dain Waris and his men. This led to destruction in Jim's life and he was shot dead by Doramin as a revenge against his son's death because all the responsibility of Dain's death was attributed to Jim.

      Thus, it was evil within Jim that made him soft towards Brown and let the door open for destruction to enter.

Brown's Life and Career was Full of Utter? Wickedness

      Brown was "the son of a baronet", and opted for the life of adventure at sea, as his career. Once he fled away with the wife of a missionary, and felt a great shock at her death. He felt intense grief and, with her death, fortune also left him. His ship was wrecked and after going through several vicissitudes, he again acquired a ship and also a group of people in his favor. He started smuggling and indulged in such illegal activities. Police began to chase him and he was captured but, somehow, managed to escape from the prison with the help of another criminal. Now, he was unable to settle in any port because of police. Thus, sailing upon sea aimlessly, he decided to take refuge in the remote country, Patusan.
Brown, the Swindler

      After arriving at Patusan, Brown and his men were approached by the emissary of Rajah Allang, accompanied by Cornelius. When, after a provisional understanding, the emissary turned back, Cornelius, in order to grind his own axe, instigated Brown against Jim and tempted him to be the ruler of Patusan. When Jim returned from the interior of the country; he held parleys with Brown, Brown inadvertently had indicated something fishy in Jim's past. Jim, fearful of the disclosure of the act of cowardice during Patna's collision, decided to let Brown retreat with sufficient provisions for his men. But something sinister was destined to happen. Cornelius prevailed upon Brown who betrayed Jim and made an attack on Dain Waris and the group of Bugis community. In that course, Dain Waris was shot dead. Everybody, in Patusan, was deeply grieved and turned hostile towards Jim. Meanwhile, Cornelius was killed by Iamb Itam, and Brown had succeeded to escape. Jim had surrendered himself to Doramin because he did not want to indulge, once again, in an act of cowardice. Doramin fired at Jim, and thus Jim had sacrificed himself for his idea of fidelity.

Brown's Death: Scornful and Unrepenting

      It is quite a remarkable feature of Conrad's art that he has introduced Brown when he (Brown) was on his death-bed and later, takes us back to Brown's past life and the part he played in the affair of Patusan. Brown was visited by Marlow at the time when he was taking his last breath. When Marlow asked about the role played in bringing death to Jim, Brown said that he was very happy and would die easily because he had performed what he wished to. He was feeling jealous of Jim because he found Jim always over-estimating himself, and moreover, because of his prestigious rank that he was enjoying in Patusan.

      Comments. In spite of being cruel, wicked, mischievous, devilish, Brown has been "humanized by the novelist and thus made real and credible". He was fearful of imprisonment. As Marlow said: "This man, who would stake his existence on a whim with a bitter and jeering recklessness, stood in moral fear of imprisonment. He had ah unreasoning cold-sweat, nerve shaking, blood-to-water-turning sort of horror at the bare possibility of being locked up-the sort of terror a superstitious man would feel at the thought of being embraced by a specter."

      To Sum Up: Brown lived pitilessly and died without any pang, remorse or repentance. He met his end true to his colors, "even if those colors were steeped in filth and blood."

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