Lord Jim

Topics: Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim, Charles Marlow Pages: 4 (1453 words) Published: October 5, 2008
In an assessment of happy endings, the British Novelist Fay Weldon observes that, “The writers, I do believe, who get the best and most lasting response from the readers are the writers who offer a happy ending through moral development. By a happy ending, I do not mean mere fortunate events – a marriage or a last-minute rescue from death – but some kind of spiritual reassessment of moral reconciliation, even with the self, even at death.”

In his literary masterpiece, Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad’s theme development is complex but mirrors Fay Weldon’s statement. Dealing with the paradox of whether a human being is capable of both good and evil the moral focus of the novel is the degree of the central characters guilt, his related attempts at self-justification, and in the end, whether or not good works can make up for one bad act. As will be supported in the following paragraphs, Lord Jim is a story of guilt, punishment, obsession to regain lost honor, and moral rescue.

Within the opening pages of the novel, Conrad’s central character is presented as less than the romantic hero. Described as being “an inch, perhaps two, under six feet” (Conrad, p. 9) Jim, the young son of a minister, is drawn to the sea as a youth and has developed a romantic view of himself as one who will meet crisis with calmness and determination. Ultimately, he is not shaken in this belief by his failure to reach the cutter of his training ship. As the plot continues, due to an illness, Jim is left behind in Singapore when his ship returns to England. As a result, he decides to take berth on a local steamer, the Patna, which is involved in an accident. Faced with what he determines to be a hopeless situation, he jumps and deserts his ship when it appears that the Patna is going to sink with all 800 passengers onboard. When it becomes known that the passengers survived, Jim becomes a social outcast. Despite the fact that he was “one of us” (Conrad, p. 63) his jump “into a...
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