Humanity in J. Conrad's and W. Somerset's creativity

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ith him. In Jim, it can be said, we see ourselves, for he is "one of us," he is our "common fate," which prohibits us to "let him slip away into the darkness."


2.2 "Human Bondage" and its moral duality


From a moral perspective the Official Court of Inquiry literally takes place throughout Lord Jim. Jim never ceases to react to charges of cowardice and of irresponsibility; never ceases to strive earnestly to prove his moral worthiness. He seems never to be in a state of repose, is always under pressure, always examining his tensive state of mind and soul. Self-illumination rather than self-justification, or even self-rehabilitation, is his central aim, and he knows, too, that such a process molds his own efforts and pain [15, 83]. He neither expects nor accepts help or absolution from others, nor does he blame others for his own sins of commission or omission. His character is thus one of singular transparency, acutely self-conscious, and vulnerable.

Jims moral sense weighs heavily on him and drives him on sundry, sometimes contradictory, lines of moral awareness and behavior. In this respect he brings to mind the relevance of Edmund Burkes words: "The lines of morality are not like the ideal lines of mathematics. They are broad and deep as well as long. They admit of exceptions; they demand modifications."4 Gnostic commentators who view the moral demands of this novel as confusing or uncertain fail to see that the lines of morality, even when they take different directions and assume different forms, inevitably crystallize in something that is solid in revelation and in value.5

Clearly Jims high-mindedness and character are problematic, and his scale of human values is excessively romantic. Thus heromanticizes what it means to be a sailor, what duty is, even what cowardice is. The fact is that he is too "noble" to accommodate real-life situations. In essence, then, Jim violates what the ancient Greeks revered as the "law of measure." And ultimately his pride, his lofty conception of what is required of him in responsible leadership and duty, his high idealism, mar the supreme Hellenic virtue of sophrosyne-. Jims conduct dramatizes to an "unsafe" degree the extremes of arrogance, and of self-delusion and self-assertion. Above all his idealism becomes a peculiar kind of escape from the paradoxes and antinomies that have to be faced in what Burke calls the "antagonist world."

In the end, Jims habit of detachment and abstraction manifestly rarefies his moral sense and diminishes and even neutralizes the moral meaning of his decisions and actions. His self-proclaimed autonomy dramatizes monomania and egoism, and makes him incapable of harmonious human interrelations, let alone a redeeming humility. His moral sense is consequently incomplete as a paradigm, and his moral virtues are finite. And his fate, as it is defined and shaped by his tragic flaw, does not attain true grandeur. In Jim, it can be said, Conrad presents heroism with all its limitations [14, 147].

Despite the circumstances of his moral incompleteness, Jim both possesses and enacts the quality of endurance in facing the darkness in himself and in the world around him. Even when he yearns to conceal himself in some forgotten corner of the universe, there to separate himself from other imperfect or fallen humans, from thieves and renegades, and from the harsh exigencies of existence, he also knows that unconditional separation is not attainable. He persists, however erratically or skeptically, in his pursuit to reconcile the order of the community and the order of the soul; and he perseveres in his belief in the axiomatic principles of honor, of loyalty, prescribing the need to transcend inner and outer moral squalor. His death, even if it shows the power of violence, of the evil that stalks man and humanity, of the flaws and foibles that afflict ones self, does not diminish the abiding example of Jims struggle to discover and to overcome moral lapses.

Jim can never silence the indwelling moral sense which inspires and illuminates his life-journey. Throughout this journey the virtue of endurance does not abandon him, does not betray him, even when he betrays himself and others. He endures in order to prevail. In Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad portrays a fitful but ascendant process of transfiguration in the life of a solitary hero whose courage of endurance contains the seeds of redemption. Such a life recalls the eternal promise of the Evangelists words: "He that endureth to the end shall be saved."

The major character of the novel, Philip, spends most of his life in two places, which become the dominant settings for the book. From the time he becomes aware of the world around him until his adolescence, Philip is found in Blackstable and its neighboring town of Tercanbury. Even after he goes abroad to study, he keeps coming beck to Blackstable during the holidays and whenever he feels the need for a change.

In the process of establishing his identity, Philip visits London twice and spends the major part of his mature years in that city. Returning back from Heidelberg, he goes to London to become a clerk in the company of Chartered Accountants. When he realizes he has no aptitude for accounting, he returns……

Philip Carey - an orphan with a clubfoot. He is the protagonist of the novel whose story Maugham traces from age nine to thirty.

William Carey - the uncle of Philip and the vicar of Blackstable. He is self-centered and rigid in his views.

Mildred Rogers - Philips antagonist on one level. Selfish, shallow, and flirtatious, she successfully lures Philip with her charms.

Thorpe Athelny - a boisterous journalist. He is a loving family man who becomes Philips friend, philosopher, and guide.

Mrs. Carey - the kind and gentle wife of the vicar. She loves Philip and helps him fulfil his desires.

Mr. Perkins - one of Philips well-wishers. He is the scholarly headmaster of Kings School.

The novel is the story of Philip Carey. The story opens with his mother dying after childbirth. The nine-year-old Philip is taken by his uncle to Blackstable. After spending a few initial years at the Vicarage, the boy is admitted to Kings School at Tercanbury. Having a clubfoot, he is ostracized and becomes introverted, but his intelligence and his aptitude for studies help him academically. Unable to bear the humiliation and taunts of his fellow students and the rigid norms of school, he finally quits and goes to Germany. In Germany, Philip learns new languages, is introduced to philosophy, and discovers the beauty of nature. His stay in Heidelberg expands his vision of humanity and life. He graduates and starts planning his future.

After talking to his uncle, Philip decides to go to London to become a clerk; however, he discovers after a few months that he is more inclined toward art than accounting. Taking financial aid from his aunt, he leaves for Paris to study. The city gives him an insight into the world of artists and their struggle to exhibit their talent. At the end of two years, he also discovers that he lacks the potential to be a great artist. As a result, he leaves Paris and returns back to Blackstable.

Philip decides to take up his fathers profession of medicine and enrolls as a student in St. Lukes hospital. He does not, however, pursue his goal in earnest because of a waitress named Mildred [8, 121].

The major theme of the novel is that the submission to passion is human bondage, while the exercise of reason is human liberty. Philip Carey loves Mildred passionately and, in trying to possess her, traps himself in her bondage. His freedom is curbed, his education is disrupted, and his fortune is lost. All his reasoning, power, and intelligence are eradicated by his passion for Mildred.

There are several minor themes in the novel. The first is that inappropriate love can be destructive. In spite of her many weaknesses, Philip loves Mildred and showers his affection and money on her. He even sacrifices his education and limited resources to please her. In the process, Philip wastes the important years of his life following a woman who is not deserving of his love. It is definitely a destructive relationship for Philip, one that keeps him in bondage [8, 128].

The mood of the novel is serious, but not gloomy. Maugham, with irony and cynicism, presents the struggle of a lonely protagonist and the turmoil in his mind.

William Somerset Maugham, the youngest child of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Maugham, was born in Paris, France on January 25, 1874. At the time of his birth, his father was working as a lawyer for the British Embassy in Paris. In 1882, his mother died of tuberculosis. His three brothers went to study in London, and William was sent to a clergyman attached to the British Embassy. When his father died two years later, there was no one to look after him in Paris. As a result, h e was sent to Kent to live with his uncle, Henry Maugham. Since his uncle and aunt were childless, they found it difficult to care for him. William, at the age of ten, was a lonely and unhappy child. His life at Kings School in Canterbury was no better. Frail and sensitive, he felt isolated from the other boys because of his stammer.

Maugham was smart, but the rigid school discipline and the taunts of his classmates made him leave school before he could complete his education. He left for Germany with the help of his uncle.

Of Human Bondage is semi-autobiographical. In it Maugham reveals his childhood, his student days in Heidelberg and London, and his philosophy of life. It was not, however, his first autobiographical attempt. In the Artistic Temperament of Stephen Carey, Maug