• Stephen K. Land


The phase of Conrad’s writing from The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’ to The End of the Tether, a period dominated by the achievement of Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim, has much in common with Greek tragedy. It presents us with men of exceptional character or vision, whose efforts, selfish or otherwise, to achieve a better world are frustrated partly by their own limitations but no less by the littleness of those around them, of men such as Donkin, the Manager, Cornelius, and Massy. The structural pattern of these stories turns upon the figure of the hero whose character embodies the paradox of flawed humanity endowed with exceptional character or ideals. In the earlier stories, principally Almayer’s Folly and An Outcast of the Islands, the hero, while involved in paradoxical situations, remains himself a relatively ordinary and uncomplicated figure. The anomaly of his life lies in his external circumstances rather than in himself. From Wait to Whalley, however, the heroes are plainly microcosmic reflections of the paradoxical universe. Their stories are built around themselves, men of exceptional status but who, rather like the heroes of Sophoclean tragedy, fall foul of fate in trying to live up to their full potential.


Western Province Paradoxical Situation Material Interest False Confession Greek Tragedy 
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© Stephen K. Land 1984

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  • Stephen K. Land

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