Jim's Isolation in Context of Jim's Life and Career

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"Can a man in isolation get peace of mind and enjoy freedom? Can he ignore society and the outer world? Can he be really lonely?" Give your answer in context of Jim's life and career?

Introduction

      The question is raised especially in the context of Jim because he is the character who lives in isolation and can not enjoy any mental peace or any common freedom which one enjoys when he lives as a part of society. In spite of being in chains, bounded by certain restrictions and obligations, we enjoy freedom and peace of mind in society. Now the question that arises is whether a man can really avoid society and afford to live in isolation. Can he be really contented in spite of living away from the "hustle and bustle of the madding crowd" Can a man live like Jim-a life in which he endeavors to escape from his past, obliterating the memories of any guilt, entirely. Is it possible to seek a life of anonymity, as Jim did, in his quest to find peace. After living the life of a sojourner, he finally settled in Patusan and found peace. But, at the grassroot level, was he really successful in making complete peace, in the real sense of the term? Did he hot get reminded of his past guilt, at the slightest provocation?

Philosophical and Psychological Interpretation of the Dictum

      It is said that, for living in complete isolation from the human world, one needs to be either a god or devil because, after all, man is a social animal, just like a beast who lives in a jungle but in a group. Man and animal both have got the herd instinct which excites them to live in company, or group with the purpose of security. Man has formed a family and society with the purpose of living together; to enjoy certain privileges of freedom, peace and pleasure though he has also imposed certain restrictions and reservations upon himself by common consent.

      One can, perhaps, get peace of mind and enjoy freedom even in absolute isolation. For example sadhus and sanyasis live all alone in wild jungles and caves and meditate over God. Only such people can ignore society and the world outside and never suffer from isolation because they completely detach themselves from the material world.

Jim and Isolation

      But so far as Jim is concerned, who has spent most of his life in human society, acquiring education and training for sea life, how is he expected to enjoy any spiritual elevation, contentment or pleasure in isolation. Being entirely cut off from family and society; a man like Jim can not be happy. This is the cause why we see Jim's soul perpetually haunted by the sense of guilt; disgrace and humiliation during the trial of court that was held against the officers of 'Patna' who left it at the moment of crisis. He is much spiritually tormented and troubled. Marlow procures for him, job after job and Jim too tries to prove himself very competent but he feels uneasy and restless; he enjoys no peace of mind and often feels like committing suicide. A few characters of the novel like Stein, Brierly, Chester say that Jim is excessively romantic and sensitive who takes everything to his heart but none of these factors cause him mental trouble, unrest or uneasiness. The actual cause is the self reproachment, the feeling of guilt for having once failed as the chief Mate of 'Patna' because Jim loves to live in society as he has been living since his birth. He is much troubled to think about his father Who is a clergyman. "How does he react and what would he feel when he will receive the news of 'Patna' and read about his son's severe neglect of duty in newspaper?" Like other human beings Jim is ambitious of turning his romantic dream into realty. He wants to enliven his dream. Conrad is trying to present Jim's guilty conscious which turns into spiritual isolation, as the prime cause of his downfall.

Comments

      Now, the next question is whether Jim can live in entire isolation. As it is already said that, for living in entire isolation, one needs to be completely detached from society. In other words, he requires an extra ordinary power of detachment that is not easy to practice especially for that man who has lived quite long in society and now is living apart from his fellow beings. Jim is not a Sadhu or Sanyasi. He is no spiritualist who has conquered all his worldly impulses and instincts and thus it is no question for Jim to live in complete isolation. He is a gregarious person like us who wants to live in company or a group and enjoy a certain amount of security and freedom.

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