Lord Jim A tall, powerfully built young man with piercing blue eyes and a deep voice. On his first assignment at sea, aboard the Patna, Jim abandons 800 Moslem pilgrims because he thinks that the ship is going to explode momentarily. Afterward, he is terribly ashamed and unable to live a normal life because he fears that his terrible cowardice will be revealed. It is only after Jim becomes the overseer of a trading post in the far-off Malay Islands that he is able to regain his self-esteem and his sense of honor.
Marlow A sea captain some twenty years older than Jim. When Marlow first sees Jim, on trial for desertion, he is sure that Jim has a cowardly streak in his nature. Later, however, Marlow begins to identify with Jim, and finally he becomes deeply sympathetic to the sensitive young man. Marlow's final assessment of Jim is that he is "one of us." In other words, we all have one shameful secret in our pasts.
Skipper of the Patna Grossly fat and greasy ("a man cut out of a block of fat"), he embodies evil and cowardice; he is "the incarnation of everything base and vile." It is his voice which Jim hears, seemingly commanding Jim to jump, to abandon the Patna.
Egstrom and Blake Owners of a ship-chandler firm, where Jim is employed as a waterclerk. Egstrom praises Jim's happy energy and honesty, and he is puzzled when he discovers that Jim fled the country because of his overwhelming guilt about the Patna incident.
Stein A wealthy and respected businessman, a naturalist of distinction, and a collector of butterflies and beetles (symbols of sentimentality and romance, and of hard-shelled, unimaginative reality). It is Stein who believes that Jim should immerse himself in his romantic nature rather than reject it; therefore, he offers Jim a chance to rebuild his life in far-off Patusan.
Cornelius Jewel's stepfather; he has mismanaged and bungled Stein's trading operations in Patusan. The buildings and books are in a shambles when Jim arrives to replace him. Cornelius "slinks" and "skulks" around the village, hoping to somehow reestablish himself. He knows that he has failed as a businessman and as a father, and his guilt has soured him on mankind. He foolishly believes that the villainous Brown accepts him as a trusted partner in Brown's plan to loot and destroy Patusan.
Doramin An enormously fat native chieftain of Patusan. He offers sanctuary to Jim when Jim escapes from Rajah Allang; it is Doramin who kills Jim at the end of the story.
Dain Waris Doramin's only son; Jim's best friend. He is the first of the Patusan people to believe in Jim's goodness and in his potential as a leader. Dain Waris becomes an innocent victim when Jim naively believes that Brown will leave Patusan peacefully.
Jewel A white girl who has been raised in Patusan. Jim falls in love with her, and she loves Jim with both fierceness and affection. She is not as trusting of people as Jim is, and she is quick to anger when Jim is threatened. She often guards Jim's door at night. One night in particular, she leads him to a nest of assassins. Ultimately, she cannot forgive Jim for his code of honor, a code which requires his death.
Tamb' Itam Jim's devoted servant; he saves Jim's life during the assault on Sherif Ali's stockade. It is he who carries Jim's silver ring to Dain Waris as a sign that they can trust Brown to leave Patusan peacefully.
Rajah Allang A corrupt man who established power over the Patusan natives by force and intimidation. He extorts everything he can from the people and trades it all to foreign buyers. He is awed by Jim's charismatic hold over the natives.
Sherif Ali A corrupt renegade who lives in the hills and makes frequent raids on the natives. Jim establishes his own sense of power and authority by destroying Sherif Ali's bastion, which hangs over the village like a buzzard's roost.
Brown Because he once had a respectable background, he calls himself "Gentleman Brown." Now, however, he has become a pirate. By chance, he comes upriver to Patusan, hoping to raid the village for enough food and water to get his pirate crew to Madagascar.
Mr. Denver Marlow convinces Denver to give Jim a job at his rice mill. All goes well until one of the Patna's crew turns up at the mill and tries to blackmail Jim. Not knowing why Jim flees the mill, Denver writes an angry letter to Marlow.
The French Lieutenant He boards the Patna the morning after she is abandoned, and he remains on board until she is towed to port. The trip was disappointing, he says, because there was no wine available for dinner. Talking to Marlow, he reveals that he is cynical about the nature of bravery.
Chester An Australian adventurer, he believes that he has found an uncharted island so rich in guano (bird droppings) that he will soon be rich beyond measure. He unsuccessfully pleads with Marlow to convince Jim that he can find a new and satisfying life for himself as an overseer on the guano island.
Brierly To all appearances, he has led a model life as a seaman; his future seems full of promise. Brierly presides as judge at Jim's trial for deserting the Patna, and as the trial progresses, he so closely identifies with Jim that he begins to fear that someday he too might commit an error similar to Jim's jumping from the Patna. Therefore, he sets his affairs in order and commits suicide by "jumping" into the sea.
The Dane A cross-eyed lieutenant in the Royal Siamese Navy who insults Jim while they are playing billiards. Jim tosses him into the sea.