Lord Jim is a wonderful, compelling novel by Joesph Conrad detailing the life of Jim as told by Marrow. The primary element used by Conrad in this novel is his uses of internal conflict within his characters. These conflictions shape his characters and makes the complex. Conrad’s writing style of the book is set not with heavy imagery on setting, but intense vocabulary used to coincide with the mood of the characters. The novel is centered around two major conflicts of two different characters. The first is Jim’s internal conflict with the Patna affair a single act of cowardice that continually affects him for the rest of the novel. The second is Marlow’s conflict, he is also the narrator of the story which is being told in a third person narrative point of view. His knowledge of Jim is almost omniscient as he is obsessed with Jim’s story and recounts his tale in an attempt to find the source of this fascination and deeper meaning behind it. He tells the story in fragments based on sources he has and his own personal anecdotes in an attempt to find this meaning, setting a storyline for the book. Jim who is the subject of his story is continually affected by Patna affair as it affects his decisions, actions , and ultimately his demise.
Imagination plays a key role in the life of Jim. An avid fan of romantic sea literature Jim has constant thoughts of becoming a sea faring hero. These delusions drive him but when faced with a chance to prove his worth as a seaman he commits a serious offense to the officer code. Later at an official inquiry by his fellow seaman he is stripped of his officer’s certification and his chance to become a hero as his daydreams detail him to be. Thoroughly shamed, this incident haunts him as he befriends Marlow, the narrator of the story, and trusts in his assistance to find another job. In his new job as a trader he reaches success and even heroism by defeating a local bandit, Sherif Ali. He falls in love with a woman named Jewel, who is the daughter of the previous manager of Jim’s trading company, and respected in his town. However, despite his recent accomplishments the incidents back from his Patna continue to haunt him. In a later bout with a white pirate named Gentleman Brown, in an attempt to overcome his initial faults at the Patna, Jim ignores Jewel’s pleas not to go.
His pride and fear of his past reoccurring causes Jim to feel obligated to take control of whether to allow Brown to leave or to eliminate him and his crew. With the town believing in Jim and one of his allies entrusting the decision to him for fear of losing his son, Jim is allowed to make the decision. He allows Brown to leave, but in a final firefight before departing ambush and killing many men, including the son of Jim’s closest ally Doramin. This final loss spells out Jim’s doom as triggers a series of events that makes Jim lose everything he has attained. The town blames the massacre on Jim and the lost of Doramin’s son leaves him in a state of grief. The one incident promptly turns to allegiance of the town away from Jim and the loss of many of the town’s men deprive Jim of his once heroic status he has romantically longed for.
This is strikingly similar to Jim’s revocation of his officer status during his inquiry for the PatnaI affair. The new conflict along with the old scars leaves Jim’s moral in shambles. Jim’s whole life is almost dictated by his conflict with his disgrace. His pride leads him to confront Doramin to express his grievance despite his anger towards him and Jewel’s pleas for him not leave her. Jim, in committing these actions, has broken the promise of never leaving his lover and acting in fear of his old mistakes and making new mistakes, visits Doramin anyways. The grieving father shoots and kills Jim causing his ultimate demise in the face of his own past conflicts. For Jim, history repeats itself and his dwelling on his past lead to his downfall.
For Marlow, a character in Jim’s life, the conflict stills persists after his narration of Jim’s life. He entire point in recounting Jim’s experience is to find deeper meaning and a source of his fascination with him. He concludes this message or meaning as an “enigma” and describes it as “inexplicable”. Though Marlow’s conflict is never solved or ended in the novel it is significant because Marlow is the narrator. During the novel the novel will shift from narrative to Marlow himself as he discusses with his audience about the story. Marlow also controls the flow of the story by telling Jim’s story in major points rather than chronologically. I believe Marlow’s conflict plays a key role because it sets the style for Lord Jim and ties in with the central idea of internal conflict.
The role of conflict in Conrad’s complex characters has a profound effect on the rationality of those characters. Certain problems affect their consciences constantly, and in the end dictate who they really are. Marlow’s conflict even sets the narrative style of the novel and how the stories jump from time frame to frame. Conrad effectively creates an outstanding novel based heavily on character complexity and interactions. His prose comparable to that of a tortured beauty which represents Conrad’s experiences in life and as a writer.