Heroism in Lord Jim

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Heroism in Lord Jim

In the heartfelt novel, Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad explores the concept of heroism through the conduct and emotions of Jim, a man who spends his life attempting to seek penance for an act of cowardice he committed as a young officer during the shipwreck of the Patna in the East. Through the eyes of the narrator, Marlowe, the reader sees Jim's internal struggle to repent for his sin as he "jumps" from job to job trying to escape his ominous legacy, eventually landing in the dangerous and isolated community in a native state, Patusan. There he lives contentedly detached and hidden from the Patna until civilization reenters his dome in the form of an evil man, Brown --unveiling Jim's repressed and remote secret by hitting his guilty conscience -- causing Jim's long awaited dark fated death, yet, ending his life with a trace of heroism.

Throughout the novel, Jim internally aspires toward the significant and frequently occurring image, courage. From the very beginning he sees "himself saving people from sinking ships . . . an example of devotion to duty, and as unflinching as a hero in a book" (3).

His thoughts would be full of valorous deeds: He loved these dreams and the success of his imaginary achievements. They had a gorgeous virility, the charm of vagueness, they passed before him with a heroic tread . . ." (12).

Despite this heroic desire, while on the Patna, Jim and five others ironically betray the "savage" men who were "surrendered to the wisdom of white men and to their courage"(10) when they abandon the sinking ship to insure their own safety. Conrad explains this action to be human, a natural response, something any person would have done in his situation. When Marlowe first encounter...

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...le of bravery. After two years, Marlowe visits the Patusan and meets, or rather upsets, Jim and his companions. Marlowe says that they "know him to be strong, true, wise, brave . . . he was all that . . . he was more . . . he was great -- invincible -- and the world did not want him, it had forgotten him, it would not even know him" (206).

When Jim encounters Brown, a man "not afraid of death" (230), he convinces his friends that Brown is no harm to them because that's what Jim truly believes. Unfortunately, advised and guided by the sneaking Cornelius, Brown had plans to attack the Malays under Dain Waris, Doramin's son. After Dain Waris was killed, Jim understood. "He had retreated from one world, for a matter of an impulsive jump, and now the other, the work of his own hands, had fallen in ruins upon his head" (265). The Malays will never trust Jim again.

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