Lord Jim Characters
by Joseph Conrad

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Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Jim, a British seaman and chief mate of the Patna. When the ship seems to be sinking after striking a submerged derelict, he jumps into a lifeboat at the urging of his fellow officers, who have already abandoned the ship and her passengers. The Patna, however, does not sink; it is discovered by a French gunboat and towed to port. Jim and his three companions are sighted and brought to port separately. After the ensuing investigation, Jim spends the remainder of his life trying to regain his heroic conception of himself and to prove to men that it was not “he” who jumped. Finally, on the island of Patusan, he earns from the natives the title of “Lord Jim” and faces his death in a heroic manner.


Marlow, an intelligent sea captain and “insatiably curious psychological observer” who sympathizes with Jim and aids him. Narrating most of the story, he says Jim is “one of us,” meaning, perhaps, that he is neither maliciously evil nor excessively good.

Captain Brierly

Captain Brierly, the “unimpeachable professional seaman” and a nautical assessor at the inquiry into the desertion of the Patna. He identifies himself with Jim in some strange way. Awakened, perhaps, to humankind’s vulnerability, he commits suicide on his next voyage.

The French Lieutenant

The French Lieutenant, an unimaginatively brave man who stays aboard the Patna for thirty hours while she is being towed to port. He never thinks that he has been heroic.


Stein, a trader who is also a naturalist and a moral philosopher. He gives Jim a chance to have his dream of rehabilitation come true by making him the agent for his enterprises on the island of Patusan.


Chester, a loathsome creature who has been everything but a pirate. He offers Jim a job that would exile him on a guano island for life because, as he says, Jim “is no earthly good for anything else.” He mistakes Jim for one of his own kind.


Cornelius, the former unsuccessful agent for Stein on Patusan. He resents Jim and finally aids Brown in causing Jim’s destruction.

Gentleman Brown

Gentleman Brown, a renegade who with a cutthroat crew lands on Patusan to get supplies but remains to rob and plunder. In sympathy, not understanding Brown’s deceit, Jim makes a pact with him. Brown’s deception results in Jim’s death.


Doramin, the leader of Patusan natives with whom Jim makes friends. When Doramin’s son is killed because of Jim’s misjudgment, Doramin is bound by honor to kill Jim.

Dain Waris

Dain Waris, Doramin’s son and Jim’s friend, killed treacherously by Brown. By his error in judgment, Jim is responsible for his friend’s death.

The Rajah

The Rajah, the ruler of the natives on Patusan; he unsuccessfully opposes Jim.

Tamb’ Itam

Tamb’ Itam, the faithful servant of Jim on Patusan.


Kossim, the confidant of the Rajah.

Sherif Ali

Sherif Ali, a wandering stranger, an Arab half-breed, who invites tribes from the interior to form a third force on Patusan.

The Captain

The Captain, the German skipper of the Patna, who abandoned his ship and its load of passengers without remorse.

The Chief Engineer

The Chief Engineer, who swears that he saw the ship go down.

The Second Engineer

The Second Engineer, who also seems to have no remorse for abandoning the ship.

Captain O’Brien

Captain O’Brien, a large, noisy old man who says that abandoning the Patna was a disgrace.

Captain Jones

Captain Jones, the first mate serving under Captain Brierly. He finds it hard to explain Brierly’s suicide, all the more because he did not like Brierly while the man was alive.

Captain Robinson

Captain Robinson, an old renegade who has done almost everything from opium smuggling to stealing. Chester takes him in on the guano deal because Robinson has some money.


Jewel, Jim’s native wife on Patusan. She finds it difficult to understand his ideals.


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The most important character is of course Jim, the protagonist and tragic hero. Although Jim's character is somewhat enigmatic, not only to Marlow but to...

(The entire section is 4,062 words.)