Lord Jim

Romanticism and Idealism in Conrad's Lord Jim

In modern parlance, the word âromanticâ? is often and understandably used with a positive connotation. A romantic individual is most often recalled with fondness, if also with pity. The faults of such a person might be limited to mere naivete: âHe was a hopeless romantic; he just wasnât meant for this cruel world.â? However, it must be remembered that the romantic mind, as opposed to the idealistic mind, is almost always clouded to varying degrees with egocentricity. Though, like the idealist, the romantic is a dreamer, one who often strays from pragmatism; the romantic is also characterized by a devout self-interest. That distinction, between idealism and romanticism, must be remembered when reading Joseph Conradâs Lord Jim. Jim, the principle character, is indisputably romantic. He is a dreamer; he is out of touch with reality; and he is completely self-interested. But an idealist, Jim is not. If this distinction is kept in mind, it should be apparent to the reader that Jim is, indeed, a tragic figure but he is not a tragic hero.

Jimâs character is most clearly developed in the first four chapters where an omniscient narrator describes his nature through his thoughts and actions. It is imperative to understand that after the...

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