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MonkeyNotes-Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
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Themes

Lord Jim is more than a simple tale of a romantic young man atoning for his act of cowardice by later bravery and self-sacrifice; it is also the study of a young man whose vanity makes him unable to come to terms with his weakness. Because of his nature and his past, Jim is extremely hard on himself. He becomes an intensely isolated and lonely man, symbolic of all men, "one of us." Conrad, therefore, is stating that loneliness surrounds every human soul, often from the cradle to the grave.

Secondly, by referring to Jim as "one of us," Marlow tries to indicate that Jim belongs to the community of man in every way. Like Jim, mankind is weak and may fall from grace at any unguarded moment. When man "jumps" like Jim, he is destined to live a life filled with guilt that is not easily escaped. Even when Jim meets with great success on Patusan, he is still haunted by his past disgrace. Only by facing Doramin and giving up his life does he atone for his past sin and die in personal honor and self-esteem.


Solitude, fate, and melancholy are the Themes of most of Conrad's novels. His protagonists are always made to struggle intensely. He judges them by how they react morally to the struggle. Jim obviously lives up to Conrad's standard. He atones for his past cowardice by dying bravely and with honor.

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