Youth, By Joseph Conrad Essay, Research Paper
Joseph Conrad suffered from a sudden visit from reality. Before he went took a trip to the Congo, he thought he was still a youth; he had an adolescent mindset of invincibility. However, in the Congo, Conrad realized, Hey, I m old. He became self-conscious. From then on, Conrad viewed life with an incredible sense of indifferent pessimism. He regretted not being young while also not caring because he knew he couldn t do anything about it. However, he admired youth. This mindset worked its way into his books and stories. Each of the main character s initial adventuring optimism was now threatened by disillusion and self-doubt.
Marlow, the narrator of the story in Youth, is telling of his experiences as a sailor. The story is a recount of his trip from England to Bangkok. It details the hardships endured by the sailors and insights into the speaker s thoughts. The syntax throughout the story is that of optimism and adventure. The diction is arranged to present a gripping tale, one of suspense and anxiety. This seems to contradict all that Conrad had come to believe about the existence of mankind, but Conrad addressed this by having the main character retell his story as an aging man who likes to incorporate spontaneous anecdotes into the tale.
The speaker tells the story with a certain bias toward pessimism. After each riveting portion of the story, Marlow kills the spirit of adventure injecting a pessimistic phrase about how his youth is gone forever. For example, after retelling the story of the October gale of 22 years ago and the exciting hardships endured by the crew during that event, Marlow states, youth, strength, genius, thoughts, achievements, simple hearts all die No matter. Again, when describing the Judea, I think of her with pleasure with regret as you would think of someone dead you have loved. Simply because the ship was passed her prime, she was as good as dead. When introducing the skipper, Marlow says that it was Captain Beard s first time as skipper; then states, You ll admit is was time. He was sixty if a day. Marlow seems to believe that sixty is about the time to die, because youth is most certainly gone forever.
Conrad integrated repetition to emphasize Marlow s faint regret at not being young any longer. On five distinct occasions, Conrad ends a paragraph with Pass the bottle. This is a sign that Marlow has given up on life. He thinks, There is no youth anymore, might as well drink. He has a feeling of hopelessness because he has lost something that he can t get back ever. Nevertheless, Marlow appreciated his youthful qualities when he possessed them. He talked of certain things appeal[ing] to [his] youth! (Conrad 46) Several times, he mentioned how he enjoyed his experiences. Surprisingly, however, Marlow never makes any mention of wishing he could be young again, never longing for the times past, never showing any passion of repeating his experiences. He only looks back and sees what had been.
Conrad entered the mind of his character and became Marlow s thoughts. He bequeathed his attitude toward life unto Marlow. Because of this, Marlow tortured himself in regards to the past. He was unable to enjoy the incredible memories of times past because his mind was infested with Conrad s pessimism. Oh, youth! The strength of it, the faith of it, the imagination of it! Pass the bottle.
They care not for what s at the end of the day, for what is to come, for what might have been [they can t understand how living could be anything other than a dream when you re young, free and innocent
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