Does Lord Jim Live to Die or Dies to Live? Discuss

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Does Lord Jim deal with the problem - How to live or how to be? Does Jim live to die or dies to live?

Stein's interpretation of the problem

      How to live or how to be? This question is raised by Stein, Marlow's most trustworthy German friend. What exactly does he mean by this question? In this world, it is for everybody to know how to live or how to be, otherwise he will fail to exist. Stein has himself explained the significance of this question. He says to Marlow, "We want in so different ways to be. This magnificent butterfly finds a little
heap of dirt and sits still. He wants to be so, again he wants to be so... He wants to be a saint, and he wants to be a devil and every time he shuts his eyes he sees himself as a very fine fellow-so fine as he can never be" He further says, "And because you not always keep your eyes shut there comes the real trouble - the heart pain - the world pain. I tell you, my friend, it is not good for you to find, you can not make your dream come true, for the reason that you are not strong enough, or not clever enough." But the question remains what one should do to exist in the world and how to live in the world? Stein says, "A man that is born falls into a dream like a man who falls into the sea. If he tries to climb out into the air as inexperienced people endeavor to do, he drowns. The way is to the destructive element submit yourself, and with the exertions of your hands and feet in the water make the deep, deep sea keep you up. So if you ask me-how to be? I will tell you. In the destructive element immerse."

N. Dasgupta's explanation of Stein's remark in context of Jim

      Stein’s interpretation needs a bit clarity. Should man live in his dream world, imagination and romance, or should he put, himself into real action? A great scholar Dr. N. Dasgupta answers this question, "The romantic Stein thinks 'that the dream world that has betrayed Jim is his destructive element. But at the same time, it is the dream-world that can sustain him through all the hazards of life. Therefore, he suggests that this destructive element, this dream-world, in Jim's case, should be changed into real life-it must be translated into action. The destructive element may, at present, appear to be sterile-but it is to be made fertile, creative-through human action. And so he comments on Jim "He is romantic and that is very bad and very good, too." It is bad to be too romantic without being a man of action. But it is also very bad to be without any imagination, or any ideal in life. The problem is how to live-how to be. In another way, the destructive element is the world itself - the world of dirt and dust. Man must know how to live in this world-live and yet not be its mere dirt and dust. And that is possible only by associating oneself to some ideal; only imagination can bring a deeper significance to existence, which Stein is almost prophetic in his assertions-man's future lies in his ability to harmonize the claims of the ideal and the factual. It is through this that he can be himself."

Does Jim Live to Die or Dies to Live?

      Now we are going to discuss a complex question. Does Jim live to die or dies to live? The bare truth that is sure to happen is death One who is born is certain to meet death. But the question is how one lives a full life-one that is full of achievements-with respect and fame or with an inexplicable sense of being in an abyss. There are two faces of human life-material and spiritual. According to Marlow, Stein and Conrad, as long as Jim was alive, his life was not a success or peaceful and honorable. He proved a failure at many crucial moments. He enjoyed peace, honor and love only during his stay at Patusan. He ruled the heart of Patusan people by rendering beneficial services, kindness, generosity, self-sacrificing spirit and, as a hero, a man of action, he shared the joys and sorrows of Patusanians. When he had 'surrendered himself, unarmed, in front of Doramin and was shot dead by him, it is said that even after death, he succeeds to live an honorable life because he had paid, with his life, for the blunder committed by him. He had trusted Brown, an invader, who proved a cheat and swindler. Jim lacked practical wisdom and foresightedness in comprehending treacherous men like Brown, Cornelius or Kassim.

To Sum Up

      We do not agree with anybody who says that one can become immortal spiritually by merely sacrificing one's life inspired by extreme sensitivity as Jim does by sacrificing his life in the hands of Doramin.

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