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The Idiots


The Idiots by Joseph Conrad


The Idiots is a poignant narrative set in rural Brittany, France. This novella delves into themes of social norms, individuality, and the harsh realities of rural life. Conrad masterfully depicts the struggles and internal conflicts of the central characters, particularly focusing on the familial and societal challenges they face.


The story unfolds in the picturesque yet austere landscape of Brittany. The setting is integral to the narrative, reflecting both the beauty and the hardships of rural life.


  • Susan: A central figure, grappling with familial duties and personal desires.
  • Jean-Pierre: Susan's husband, a stoic figure, embodies the rigid norms of rural society.
  • Other characters include villagers and family members, each adding depth to the societal tapestry Conrad weaves.

Plot Overview

The plot revolves around Susan and Jean-Pierre, a couple living under the weight of societal expectations and personal grief. The narrative explores their life in Brittany, highlighting the struggles with their mentally challenged children, referred to as "idiots" in the context of the story. The story is a profound exploration of the human condition, touching on themes of love, sacrifice, and societal judgment.


  1. Societal Expectations vs. Individual Desires: The story portrays the conflict between following societal norms and pursuing personal happiness.
  2. The Harsh Realities of Rural Life: Conrad vividly describes the challenging aspects of life in a rural setting.
  3. Family and Sacrifice: Central to the story is the theme of family, exploring the sacrifices made for loved ones.


Conrad's narrative style in "The Idiots" is both stark and deeply emotive, creating a vivid picture of the characters' lives. The novella is a profound commentary on societal norms and individual struggles, making it a compelling read for those interested in human psychology and social dynamics.


"The Idiots" by Joseph Conrad is a powerful exploration of human resilience and vulnerability in the face of societal pressures. It remains a significant work, reflecting Conrad's deep understanding of human nature and the complexities of rural life.