Similarity in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim

Topics: Joseph Conrad, Native Americans in the United States, Heart of Darkness Pages: 8 (3144 words) Published: May 18, 2011
Similarity in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim Many times, after a successful novel, an author will publish another story very similar to the praised one. Joseph Conrad followed in suit with the previous statement. After the publication of Heart of Darkness in 1899, Lord Jim was released in 1900. However, according to majority of his critics, Conrad’s Lord Jim arguably outdoes Heart of Darkness to be named his best work. Few realize, though, that Lord Jim was actually started before Heart of Darkness and dropped until after the completion of it (Galens, Novels for Students 193). Joseph Conrad uses a consistent style throughout the writing of Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim to display similar central points. The uniform parts of style include setting, narration, and central characters. Compliments of the style similarities, the role of women, the gathered theme of white heroism among the natives, and the issues of loss and rejection confirm the likeness of the two novels. As Conrad spent over twenty years on the sea, it is no surprise that both of these novels take place among the waters. More specifically, Heart of Darkness begins along the Thames River in London. The travels include a round trip from the Thames to the Congo, ending again in Europe (Telgen 98). Conrad uses legitimate and real places to portray the African area in the 1890s. But, in Lord Jim, the ship called the Patna and the island of Patusan are both fictional. He creates the ship and island with the same jungle like descriptions to serve as the main setting of Lord Jim. Perhaps Conrad did not feel that he portrayed what he truly wanted to show in Heart of Darkness because he had to stick with some historical truths about Africa. He then creates his own places with his own rules and writes Lord Jim. If this is true, the use of the same narrator named Marlow in both novels is logical. In both novels, the structure of the narrator is virtually set up the same; they are really a story within another story, bouncing back and forth between the first and third person point of views. For the majority of both novels, Marlow is aboard a ship telling the passengers a story about a powerful man who makes a costly error while abroad foreign places. In Heart of Darkness, the third person narrator comments on the life of Marlow and only plays a small role in the book. This third person is never named, most likely because his role is not major. Lord Jim is set up in a similar manner: Marlow serves as the main storyteller in the first person point of view and is preceded by an unknown third person who gives an account of Jim’s life in the novel’s first few chapters (Galens, Novels for Students 180). Although the two novels do not match up page for page with the differing point of views, the similar use of the narrator is clear. Conrad’s choice of using Marlow for both novels is wise. He knew that Marlow was a success in Heart of Darkness, so by using his creative skills and Marlow, he created a masterpiece in Lord Jim. Marlow is an old sea captain throughout multiple pieces of Conrad’s work and always serves as the narrator. Conrad proves that Marlow is still human by showing his anger and dislike at each of the main characters throughout the novels. In Heart of Darkness, Marlow becomes furious when he discovers that Kurtz is believed to be dead before his ship arrives at the island. Marlow also assumes that Jim is not regretful of his incident and has an immediate dislike towards him, but when he gets to know Jim, Marlow changes his mind in Lord Jim. In being human, the sea captain believes that he sees and knows it all, so it is not surprising that he tells the stories of Kurtz in Heart of Darkness and Jim in Lord Jim. The central characters in each of the novels are also very similar. Both Kurtz and Jim serve as explorers upon their ships in their respective novels. Even though the circumstances were different in the two...
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