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“Lord Jim” by Joseph Conrad Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 21st, 2021


Joseph Conrad is one of the greatest 20th century novelist who was inspired by the long years working in the sea, by the people he met, by the obstacles and harsh conditions he had overcame. This is amazing how seaman, however with good education for those times, managed to conduct such a deep analysis of human nature and inner world, in particular in his masterpiece of the twentieth century- “Jim Lord”.

Lord Jim was raised on the tales about the courage of the seamen, their great deeds, and so no wonder that young man was inspired by these stories. And a dream deep in his soul emerged, dream to become a hero, a legendary seaman, who will be well know all over the world for this braveness. So, the decision of working at Patna was rather understandable and logic, however young man did not suppose that this ship is a source of evil, and by joining the crew he himself adopted this trait of irresponsibility of his actions.


When the crew had abandoned the ship, Jim, as it was noted in the book “They Always Leave Us”: ‘Lord Jim”, followed them committing mistake which made him feel guilty throughout the rest of his life, as well as the ghost of Patna as the symbol of darkness and evil. (Ruppel, 1998, p.50).

The life of Lord Jim seems to be surrounded by certain signs and symbols; in particular, colors have a deep and important meaning in the understanding of the nature of every character. For example, such people like captain Marlow or Jewel, who was in love with Jim, wear white or light colors clothes, and they have a positive and inspiring effect on the character of Jim.

On the other hand, Chester and Robinson are people with questionable pasts and bad reputation are wearing dark and dirty colors clothes, which are associated with their dark nature and past. The article “The Moral Sense in Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim “is researching the connection between the color and nature of the heroes. (Panichas, 2000, p.10).


Stein is a very interesting character, combining both skills of smart and successful trader and a hobby of collecting butterflies and beetles. However, the most important thing about his nature is sympathy and understanding towards Jim. Stein has done a significant deed by taking Jim to Patusan, which might seem of not big importance, however for our main character it was a second chance to start a new pure life and forget the shameful past.

It seems that Jim should leave his mistakes behind and live his new pure life, however his guilt does not let him move on, reminding about Patna and his wrong decision. The article “Rereading: Jim and I” refers to the fact that by reading this book again a reader can obtain a deeper understanding of Jim’s mistakes.(James, 2003, p.135).

Another amazing and positive character in “Jim Lord” is Marlow, who is the actual reteller and even interpreter of the story of Jim Lord. Analyzing this book, it can be understood that Marlow not only helped Jim to obtain a number of satisfying jobs, however more importantly his support and a shoulder of real friend, who could be relied on in any situation. Marlow is very good at analyzing and understanding the behavior of his friend and motives behind it, which is underlined in the article “The Fiction of Gabrielle Lord” by Pierce.(1999, p. 186).

Undoubtedly, this friendship was very beneficial for Jim Lord, but the question arises – why did Marlow valued this friendship so much even though it was to certain extent a torture for him, and he did not receive any significant support from Jim Lord? Maybe, Marlow is one of those people who treasures friendship and always finds a way to support his close people; maybe, he believes that doing good things to other people is an integral part of life. Another possible answer is that Marlow associates himself with Jim, comparing his friend’s decisions and thoughts with his own ones and discovering many similarities. There are many possible answers, and if there were more people like Marlow in this book, or in real life people would have much less problems and much more trust to each other.

This is how Bloom described Marlow in his writing:” Marlow, our narrator, becomes something like a father to Jim, in an implicit movement that has been shrewdly traced by Ian Watt. There is an impressive irony in the clear contrast between the eloquent father, Marlow, and the painfully inarticulate son, Jim. […] Marlow is a survivor, capable of withstanding nearly the full range of human experience, while Jim is doomeager, as much a victim of the romantic imagination as he is a belated instance of its intense appeal to us.”(1987, p.4).

Although Jim Lord seemed to manage to escape the shameful events from the past, the dark ghost of Panta and “glory” of the crew, which abandoned the ship, has spread around the world. Even at this isolated territory Jim Lord hears the echo of Panta’s abandon, and, moreover, the feeling of guilt and shame are hurting him inside turning his decent and rather satisfying life into real hell.

An example of Jim’s life should serve a good lesson for “Jim Lord” readers, who should realize that one irresponsible mistake can change our lives, and the negative effect can be so significant, that it would be impossibly hard to turn to the right way, this idea also expressed in the article “Superb Tale of Lord Jim and a Killer” (Evening Chronicle, 1999, p. 28) The shadow of Panta will always shed dark light on life of guilty hero and it is only up to him whether he moves on to the new stage or stays alone with his regrets and disappointment.

Jim always longs for fame and new heroic deeds; he is looking for a chance to regain the reputation he has once lost. And he has succeeded in his new career, even the new employer of Jim is writing about the “blooming career” of ambitious Jim Lord, describing his satisfaction with his new employee.

Jim’s rigorous efforts to obtain a new life, new job without remembering about his past lead to the question whether it is possible to wipe out his past and start from the blank page? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Reputation of every man is build from the beginning of his life and none of the pages of his/her life can be left white (even though there were certain events which are embarrassing). So, even if Jim leaves his past behind his actions will speak about his nature, hinting about wrong decisions he took many years ago.

Jim’s level of ambitions and desire to be hero can not be suited with his values and beliefs. How can a man become a hero, even in small community like the area where he lives, if he has killed a person? Death of Gentlemen Brown is on the consciousness of Jim Lord and this is one more mistake which appeals to the evil nature of Jim.

Now the reader can clearly see that Jim is not the hero, regardless of his attempts to show his heroic nature. The cowardness of Jim Lord is discovered in few but significant, life-changing situations, where decision speaks for the man’s character. Reading the book “Jim Lord” the reader realizes how important to take the right decisions in such situations.(Conrad, 1962, p.33).

The reader feels certain sympathy to the poor lost Jim Lord, who has done some good things in Patusan, the small community where he has started his new life. Patusan is a rather isolated territory; however it is terrorized by the local bandit. So, Jim Lord manages to defeat the enemy of Patusan, at last becoming a hero.

The bravery and determination of Jim Lord is not neglected in Patusan, and people are eagerly expressing their gratitude to the new hero. His apathetic attitude towards death proves his bravery to the people around him.

This part of the book is devoted to the new Jim Lord, who shows his courage and confidence through his actions. He is not afraid to stand up to Doramin and get punished for a new mistake he has done. The main hero has realized that repentance lies in the responsibility for his actions, and analyzing the behavior of this young man one can be amazed at the talent of this book’s author who managed to discover such hidden motives and traits in his character.(Conrad, 1983, p.50).

“Conrad’s Patusan tale is not only a naturalistic illustration of the selfish destructiveness of all naively-held ideals. It is also an implicit condemnation of even the most benign imperialistic ventures, for most conquests are carried out in the name of high ideals. All are a form of cultural romanticism: efforts to impose the conquering nation’s vision of an ideal world on people who do not necessarily share that perspective. Jim was fortunate in that he was able to impose much of his vision on Doramin, the greatest power in Patusan, through his son, Dain Waris,”- Ruppel aims to show the needless nature of Jim’s ideals, which is another different, but nevertheless interesting point of view on the issue of heroic decisions.(1998, p.50).

The end of the story of Lord Jim can be looked at from two points of view: on the one hand, the death of Jim Lord is dramatically tragic as the death of any person in the world, on the other hand, this death has put the end to the sorrow and guilt of Jim Lord, whose last decision was the most courageous and heroic.

“Jim’s problem is that his anxious desire places him outside the secular morality characteristic of late nineteenth-century society even though it places him in the symbolic tradition central to that society,-“these words by Bloom, who investigates the motives and reasons of Jim’s actions, best sum up the main issue of hero’s nature presented in this research paper. (1987, p. 187).

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold, ed. Joseph Conrad”s Lord Jim. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1987.

Conrad, Joseph. Lord Jim. New York: Collier Books, 1962.

Conrad, Joseph. Lord Jim: A Tale. Ed. John Batchelor. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983.

James, Jamie. “Rereading: Jim and I.” American Scholar 2003: 135.

Panichas, George A. “The Moral Sense in Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim.” Humanitas 13.1 (2000): 10.

Pierce, Peter. “The Fiction of Gabrielle Lord.” Australian Literary Studies 19.2 (1999):

Ruppel, Richard. “”They Always Leave Us”: ‘Lord Jim,’ Colonialist Discourse, and Conrad’s Magic Naturalism.” Studies in the Novel 30.1 (1998): 50.

“Superb Tale of Lord Jim and a Killer.” Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England),1999, 28.

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