Analysis Of Conrad's Obsessions

2303 Words 10 Pages
Register to read the introduction… It is the view of this essay that although Conrad may be obscure in …show more content…
Ja! In general, adapting the words of your great poet: That is the question…How to be! Ach! How to be!” (Conrad 133). A major thread in Conrad’s works, and certainly one that gains a position as one of his ‘obsessions’, is the theme of identity. There is much debate over the problem of individual identity and the question of what the real self is, where it is located, and how it is to be understood. Perhaps this can be traced to Conrad’s former exile from his country and the sense of being rootless and without a formal identity. Conrad’s frequent descriptions of spiritual and emotional breakdown in his novels point to the idea that identity is easily collapsible and changeable. This can be seen in the undertone of psychological struggles of the Narcissus crew. In the very male atmosphere that they create for themselves the crew all seem to identify with notions of masculinity and bravery. This pushing away of femininity causes it to leak back in moments of stress. This is characterized by Wait who seems to draw out emotion which is seen as corrupting and dangerous. Wait’s rescue seems to be compared to giving birth the way he is pulled out of the hole and there is much groaning, hooting, sobbing, and female hysteria amongst the crew, “Jimmy kept up a distracting row; he screamed piercingly, without drawing a breath, like a tortured woman; he banged with hands and feet” (Conrad p.63). The crews’ notions of their masculine identity break down and they express their unease with Wait for this, “In our disturbed state we were absolutely paralysed by his incredible action…even Archie at last lost his composure” (Conrad p.65). Conrad contrasts this behaviour with their earlier masculinity to show the ease of break down and even suggests that this former stableness may even be illusion. In addition to fragility, identity in Conrad’s works is also ambiguous for other characters to determine. Jim is Conrad’s charactoral epitome of this situation. To begin with the

Related Documents