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With reference to the first eleven pages discuss the significance of time shifts in Heart of Darkness(TM)

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Introduction

'With reference to the first eleven pages discuss the significance of time shifts in Heart of Darkness' Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is a very philosophical novella. It was created in the middle of a period when phenomenology (the idea that our lives are made sense of by certain moments and ideas) was very popular. Conrad uses the novella to put across his ideas about human nature and the darkness of mankind. Instead of writing it as a chronological plotline of introspective events manipulated into a story Conrad uses ideas where and when they are relevant to his point, no matter when they are based. This is a very uncommon format; most novels- like Charles Dickens' 'Great Expectations' for instance- progress from beginning to end in the predictable order. In 'Great Expectations' the lead character, Pip, recollects his life from a significant moment in his life, to the present day. 'Heart of Darkness' does the complete opposite however, which leads to many time shifts in the novella. ...read more.

Middle

The setting then changes again to the difficult time after Marlow's last sea voyage, describing how he stayed in London for a time and looked, unsuccessfully for work. This doesn't really help move Conrad's point along but it does give us a sense of perspective. Marlow is feeling slightly depressed at his inability to find work but this is nothing to the distress he will soon be feeling, after several time-shifts, in the Congo. Then Marlow swiftly turns to his childhood and recalls the times that he would look at maps and dream about discovering empty areas, such as the Congo ('the biggest, the most blank...that I had a hankering after'). Just as the Roman scenario is used to get across a point this one is too. In remembering his daydreaming childhood Conrad is pairing the area that will soon be the scene of ostentatious evil with a sense of fantasy and whimsy. ...read more.

Conclusion

The narrative then returns to Marlow's earlier quest for employment with the (Belgian) Company, in charge of trading with the colonised Africans. He describes the garish capital city, (by which he means Brussels) as a 'white sepulchre', and the intimidating offices of the Company. He speaks to his yacht-going companions back in modern London about the secretaries of the office who reminded him of Clotho and Lachesis, two people in Greek legend who were said to have controlled the fate of men. This is the last event of the first eleven pages and sees the eighth time shift. All of these were imperative to realising Conrad's point, and none of them would have been available if a chronological, first person format had been used. The fact that there are so many time-shifts in so short a time shows how necessary the change in setting is for Conrad to get his introspective point across, and explains why it is one of his most potent literary tools. ?? ?? ?? ?? Edward Perchard 20/09/06 ...read more.

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