Critical Essays Structure of Victory


Conrad divided Victory into four parts as follows:

Part 1 (seven chapters) is written in objective viewpoint by an onlooker who is not described or introduced — maybe Conrad, himself. The purpose of Part 1 is:

  • to give the reader an objective view of Axel Heyst as seen and known by his contemporaries in the island region where the story is laid.
  • to introduce the "good characters" and also Schomberg, who sparks the plot action and may be regarded as a pivotal character.
  • to introduce the setting for the drama on Samburan.

Part 2 (eight chapters) begins in the narrator's objective viewpoint but enters the subjective viewpoint of both Heyst and Schomberg. The "I" is dropped after Chapter 2 of Part 2. The purpose of Part 2 is:

  • to introduce the villains.
  • to set up the elopement with attendant excitement.
  • to develop Schomberg's character. He does not appear, excepting by reference, after the end of Part 2.

Part 3 (ten chapters) begins in author's objective viewpoint but in Chapter 3 shifts into subjective of all the characters excepting Jones. The purpose of Part 3 is:

  • to introduce the reader to Samburan as it looks when Heyst brings Lena to live there, and also to introduce Wang.
  • to introduce the three villains to Samburan and show their opinion of Heyst and his reaction to them.
  • to set the stage for the final hours of tragedy.

Part 4 (fourteen chapters) covers less than one day of time. It continues in both objective and subjective viewpoints of all characters but Mr. Jones, whose mind is not entered during the book. The purpose of Part 4 is the climax of the plot toward which all previous parts have built.

The book's general structure is more like modern novels than Conrad's earlier books. Comparatively few characters are used, and they are well developed. There are no deviations from the ascending story line. Flashbacks are well handled, and all of the flashbacks are pertinent to the plot.