Discussion of the Narrative framework of ´Heart of Darkness

Length: 2 Pages 563 Words

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a link between Victorian and modern literary values and ideals, something which is evident in his writing. Victorian values focused on heroism whilst modern ideals are more centered on being critical—Conrad’s hero is Marlow, a sailor, but Marlow still criticises contemporary colonialism and imperialism and Conrad has set the story on a stage other than Europe. Conrad’s criticisms are voiced through Marlow, and although he could be considered Conrad’s mouthpiece, this is not necessarily true. To provide some space and objectivity between the main narrator, Marlow, and his own personal story, Conrad makes use of a first person narrator who tells the story as he is listening to Marlow’s story; the nameless first narrator is used in the first of two settings, on the ship, the Nellie, a Continue...


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The "novella is intended to be a commentary on the imperialistic exploitation of Africa, so he (Conrad) provided Marlow with an audience of his fellow tools of exploitation. Marlow is an introspective sailor, and is served to the reader in the form of the traditional hero tough, honest, and a capable and independent thinker, but he also appears as a broken man, the world has defeated him in some way, which also makes him sceptical, weary and cynical of the world. The setting aboard the Nellie and the first narrator create a narrative framework for the novella and for Marlow"tms own story. nd Marlow"tms story itself begins in Brussels, continues to a ship which then sails to the Congo, and after visiting various locations along the Congo River, the story ends back in Europe. Altogether, Conrad"tms use of framing narrative, a story within a story, two settings, each with their respective narrator creates a distance between Conrad and his story and his personal opinions which are inherent in Marlow"tms character. By manipulating the reactions and thoughts of Marlow"tms audience, Conrad supplies an example of how he would like his own audience to react: listen to the story; slowly abandon rationalizations; engage in self-examination; admit responsibility, and understand that the darkness is in each one of us"tm The alienation, or distance Conrad immediately creates by using another narrator, and also by using defamiliarisation in his descriptions "I arrived in a city that always makes me think of a whited sepulchre"tm as well as with names of people and places separates the writer from his subjective opinions. And as Marlow is placed between the two extremes of Kurtz, and the Company, he becomes a moderate speaker and thinker is comparison, thus making it more likely one will agree with him as he becomes the middle road. Marlow tells the yarn in an attempt to educate his fellow crew in the understanding of the world beyond oneself, and in the judgement of other people. Conrad"tms work was published in 1899 in the February edition of Blackwood"tms Magazine which was read by members of the upper and middle classes, and therefore Conrad"tms own opinion could not be obvious, and although there is most certainly an autobiographical aspect to the novella, as Conrad himself experienced travelling and European colonialism and imperialism first-hand, is still distanced from the goings on in the story by making use of narrative framework and a second, inconsequential narrator.

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