Jewel: Character Analysis in the Novel Lord Jim

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Introduction (Parentage and Upbringing)

      Though Jewel appears very late in the novel, yet her impressive role, her characteristics and exotic charm has great effect and she is aptly regarded the heroine of the novel - Lord Jim. Jewel is an embodiment of romance and love in the novel. For the first time, we meet her in Patusan when Jim arrived there for his rehabilitation and stayed with Cornelius. As far as the parentage of Jewel is concerned, she was the daughter of a European man. Her mother got married to Cornelius after her husband's death. Cornelius was, thus, Jewel's stepfather. She was half eastern and half western. She was a young, beautiful maiden, "a beautiful rose blooming in the far off wilds of Malaya unknown, unseen, unhonoured." She was romantic, mysterious and the symbol of feminine instincts and impulses.

      Her early years of life were spent in the company of Cornelius, her stepfather, who ill-treated her mother. Their relations were not cordial but very bitter. She despised him, and when she was on her deathbed and Cornelius wanted to see her, she asked her (Jewel) to lock the door and thus stopped him from coming near her. Mystery lies in the fact that, inspite of this degree of hatred, she spent so many years with him, being his wife. It is very obvious that for comfort and consolation, she was dependent on Jewel and told her about her regrets of past, and also fears related to the future. By the time Jim arrived at Patusan, she was dead. Though Jewel, too, did not like her step-father, Cornelius, yet she had no place else to go and thus was bound to lead a wretched life with Cornelius, who often abused her mother, shouted at her and, by his fury and ill-treatments, made her weep bitterly.

Marlow's Views on Jewel

      Marlow had found Jewel a lady of exotic charm. She, as described by Marlow, had intense blue-black gleams of hair, shapely head that she moved with great self-confidence. Marlow saw her blushing quite often. She laid the impression of a curious blend of shyness and audacity. Her pretty smile fascinated Marlow but it was soon followed by a look of silent and subjugated anxiety. To Marlow, it seemed that there was a permanent series of danger in her mind. She, sometimes, behaved in a mysterious way and it struck Marlow very often.

'Jewel' was Not her Actual Name

      Her real name is not told in the novel. Jim had given her the name, Jewel, with the intention to convey his deep love and a precious place in his life. This name had given birth to a few amusing beliefs that Jim had owned a precious stone and laid it hidden somewhere in the body of Jewel. Jewel and Jim were often seen in each other's company and people believed that Jim was keeping her in his company because of his intention to guard that precious stone.

Jewel's Love for Jim

      Jewel loved Jim very deeply and ardently. It was an ideal kind of love. It was after the providential escape of Jim from death, he realized Jewel's intense love for himself. But Jewel was always worried by the fact that Jim would, some day or the other, leave her and could not stay with her life long. Jewel's sense of desertion, that Jim would one day leave her, often put her to severe stress. She suspected Marlow that he had come to Patusan in order to take Jim far away from her life. Marlow observed her passion and said "her tenderness hovered over him like a flutter of wings. She lived so completely in his contemplation that she had acquired something of his outward aspect, something that recalled him in her movements, in the way she stretched her arm, turned her head, directed glances. Her vigilant affection had an intensity that made it almost perceptible to the sense: it seemed actually to exist in the ambient matter of space, to envelope him like a peculiar fragrance to dwell in the sunshine like a tremulous, subdued, and impassioned note." Marlow, before having a conversation with Jewel, noticed that Jim was 'jealously loved, but why she should be jealous, and what, I could not tell. The land, the people, the forests were her accomplices, guarding him with vigilant accord, with an air of seclusion, of mystery; of invincible possession. There was no appeal, as it were; he was imprisoned within the very freedom of his power, and she though ready to make a footstool of her head for his feet, guarded the conquest inflexibly-as though he were hard to keep. She never felt safe even arms entwined. She failed to lull her premonitions though she fought to hold him. Though Jim had sworn not to leave her but she could not believe him because of her trust that westerners, one day, went back to their country, regardless of how long they stayed at another place and how much they were attached to people there. Even her father had promised her mother not to desert her but he did that and broke his promise. Thus she failed to believe that Jim would stand by her life long.

Jewel Saved the Life of Jim

      Jewel was unhappy because of her step father's hostile attitude towards herself. Jim felt drawn towards her, compelled by her beauty; charm and by sympathy for Jewel. He felt the burst of Jewel's love after having escaped from death through her efforts. One night, she had woken him up from sleep and informed him about the men conspiring against him. Jim took the initiative and thwarted the attempt of Sharif Ali's men to ruin him. Jim was overwhelmed with love for Jewel and realized her love for himself, for the first time. Jewel urged Jim to quit Patusan because here, his life was not safe. She was ready to endure the pain of separation for the sake of his safety.

Jewel: A Vigorous Maiden

      Jewel, at many times, had shown her sincerity; spiritedness, intellect and quick decision. Besides showing her spirit of enterprise in saving Jim's life, she, without any delay and hesitation, let Doramin’s men take the weapon from Jim's storehouse where he had kept several weapons. Jewel had the key to the store and she took this step when Brown, the ruffian, had arrived at Patusan with his men, and Jim, at that time, had gone into the interior of the country for some urgent business. When Dain Waris was shot dead by Brown and a new threat to Jim's safety appeared, she told Jim to fight them, and on seeing Jim's indifference to fight, she said: "You are mad or false." She reminded Jim of his promise not to leave her but became helpless on seeing no sign that Jim would yield. She began to sob over Jim's shoulder after flinging herself upon his breast and putting her arms around his neck.

Jewel: A Symbol of Fidelity and Tragic Irony

      Jewel is symbolic of fidelity in her love. Though she, at the end, felt that Jim had not remained loyal to her and betrayed her love, yet, in no way, did it make her love undignified and ignoble. In fact, Jewel was not able to understand Jim's motive behind surrendering himself to Doramin. When Marlow met her at Stein's place, she complained that Jim had left her like other white men. She said that white men were hard-hearted, false and treacherous. She also told Marlow that she would not weep over Jim's desertion of her. "He shall have no tears from me. Never. Never. Not one tear." When Stein tried to make her understand Jim, she did not accept his point of view. Thus we can conclude, it is the tragic irony which is playing an important role in her life. Undoubtedly, she was a savage but her heart was very white - and pure and her chaste love was exceptional. On the other hand, the white man was quite contrary to the savage lady possessing a pure heart (for example, Tess of Hardy).

      Thus if Jim is a tragic hero, Jewel is a pathetic heroine because extinction of love made her desolate and put her beyond consolation. As Shakespeare said that love is a "woman's whole existence," in its absence she is nothing. Jewel becomes the example of a woman without love.

      Comments. We have pursued the role of Jewel in relation with Jim, her devoted lover. It was very tragic that Jim did not give her the expected response of her chaste love. Anyway; we can say that these are the forces of Almighty which are not to be challenged and we are forced to bear what is in store for us.

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