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Joseph Conrad and The Modern Age

Powerful Essays
The 20th Century stands out not merely as an age of growth or refinement, but one of absolute transcendent recreation. This new era, presenting the world with radical new ideas and invention, ushered in shocking changes and previously unheard of notions and theory over the views of man. This new phase of humanity brought about the conception and birth of Modernism. Joseph Conrad in particular rushed forward to slam a door on the Victorian Age and end the century of optimism, reproving the human race's ideologies on virtue and purity with the more skeptical realities of the bleakness of real human nature and the power of unfortunate circumstance. Conrad's novel Lord Jim cleaved into the supporting pillars raised by previous Victorian value and set a foundation for his notions of High Modernism; his characters and their reactions to irresolute situations, and even the situations themselves, present the absence of the divine and holy to take the skeptical stance that men, imperfect as they are, face an existential existence.

Through his work Conrad unabashedly declares that human nature, in agreement with Robert Stevenson's concept for The Curious Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, is composed of a dual nature. Rather than focus on such grandiose descriptions of good and evil however, Conrad tackles a subtler and more base exploration of the human spirit. Jim as his prime example, Conrad makes to show that humanity "is an enigmatic paradox of strength and weakness" (Wester 3314). In the case of Jim, whose struggle is not the duality of good and evil so much as it is a question of the integrity of his character, a much more complicated war is fought in which he must face the perils of human weakness and walk a balanced line between “...

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Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph. Lord Jim. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 2004. Print.

Guerard, Albert J. “Conrad: The Novelist.” Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon Hall.

Vol. 6. Detroit: Gale Research Company. 1982. Print.

Morf, Gustav. “The Polish Heritage of Joseph Conrad.” Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Laurie DeMauro. Vol. 43. Detroit: Gale Research Company. 1992. Print.

Powys, T. F.. “Lord Jim.” Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Laurie DeMauro. Vol. 43. Detroit: Gale Research Company. 1992. Print.

Sadoff, Ira. “Sartre and Conrad: Lord Jim as Existential Hero.” Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Laurie DeMauro. Vol. 43. Detroit: Gale Research Company. 1992. Print.

Wester, Janet. “Lord Jim.” Masterplots. Ed. Laurence Mazzeno. Fourth ed. Vol. 6. Pasadena: Salem Press, 2011. Print.
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