- “He had no leisure to regret what he had lost, he was so wholly and naturally concerned for what he had failed to obtain.”
Marlow observes Jim’s despair at failing to be the hero of his childhood dreams.
- “With every instant he was penetrating deeper into the impossible world of romantic achievements.”
This reference emphasises Jim’s desire to be a hero and how impossible this dream has been to live up to in reality.
- “His confounded imagination had evoked from him all the horrors of panic, the trampling rush, the pitiful screams, boats swamped – all the appalling incidents of a disaster at sea he had ever heard of.”
In this instance, Marlow recounts Jim’s tale of his panic at the thought of the steamer sinking and the possible effects of this. The dangers of having an active imagination are highlighted.
- “Trust a boat on the high seas to bring out the Irrational that lurks at the bottom of every thought, sentiment, sensation, emotion”.
This reference continues to emphasize the dangers of an overactive imagination and links this with the isolation brought about by being on a boat on the sea.
- “There is such magnificent vagueness in the expectations that had driven each of us to sea, such a glorious indefiniteness, such a beautiful greed of adventures that are their own and only reward!”
At this point, Marlow empathizes with Jim’s desire to be a seaman and demonstrates his identification with the younger man.
- “I am telling you so much about my own instinctive feelings and bemused reflections because there remains so little to be told of him. He existed for me, and after all it is only through me that he exists for you”.
In this reference, Marlow turns to his audience as he recounts Jim’s story. This is also a self-reflective moment in the narrative as Conrad highlights how this is a work of fiction. It follows that just as Jim exists through Marlow, Marlow exists through Conrad.
- “I am fated never to see him clearly”.
Marlow is referring ostensibly to how the sun dazzles him as he says goodbye to Jim as Jim sails off to Patusan. This statement also demonstrates the difficulty in seeing anybody ‘clearly’ as we see them from our own subjective perspective.
- “He was like a figure set up on a pedestal, to represent in his persistent youth the power, and perhaps the virtues, of races that never grow old, that have emerged from the gloom. I don’t know why he should always have appeared to me symbolic. Perhaps this is the real cause of my interest in his fate”.
Marlow spells out his view of Jim as symbolic (rather than human). This reference also hints at a future disaster as Jim is not a symbol or a figure on a pedestal – he is characteristically a flawed human who cannot live with this disappointment.
- “And me finding her here like this – as you may go out for a stroll and come suddenly upon somebody drowning in a lonely dark place”.
In this reference, Jim describes his love for Jewel and connects it to a heroic act. This is, of course, a telling comparison as he castigates himself for leaving the ship he believed to be sinking (and so in theory left the pilgrims to drown). With Jewel, he is able to be the rescuer he failed to be earlier.
- “And that’s the end. He passes away under a cloud, inscrutable at heart, forgotten, unforgiven, and excessively romantic”.
This is Marlow’s moving epitaph to Jim.
Lord Jim: Top Ten Quotes