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Challenging the Modern Subject in Joseph Conrad’s “The Planter of Malata”

  • Katarzyna Sokołowska EMAIL logo


Conrad’s story “The Planter of Malata,” by focusing on the portrayal of Geoffrey Renouard, addresses the dilemmas of the modern self implicated in the subjectivist mode of experiencing the world. Heidegger’s reinterpretation of the Cartesian ego and his conceptualization of modern subjectivity provide a theoretical framework for clarifying the paradox of Renouard’s position which involves both demonstrations of mastery and gestures of submission in his interactions with Felicia Moorsom. The paper examines how the subject construes the world as representation and reduces the world to the object to be manipulated and controlled. Renouard’s experience of irrational desire and his loss of mastery, which lead to the collapse of the subject/object duality and the dissolution of representation, dismantle the project of the omnipotent ego. Eventually, the breakdown of the ego engenders a growing paralysis of will, enhances the lure of death-like stasis and culminates in Renouard’s suicide.

Corresponding author: Dr hab. Katarzyna Sokołowska, Department of British and American Studies, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Pl. M. Curie-Skłodowskiej 4A, 20-031 Lublin, Poland

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Published Online: 2019-12-11
Published in Print: 2019-12-18

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