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Comparison of Beloved by Toni Morrison and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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Introduction

IB Comparative World Literature From a literal viewpoint, the novels Beloved by Toni Morrison and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad have no correlation on the grounds that they feature entirely different settings, timeframes, character types, and style. However, when the overall themes and messages of both books are examined, the reader is able to see that both stories make strong statements about societies plagued by racism. In Morrison's novel, Beloved, Denver's character undergoes significant personality changes that vary with the progression of the plot and especially with Beloved's presence in 124; these changes mirror the emotional and psychological journey of the character Marlow from Heart of Darkness. Both of these evolving characterizations reflect the authors' intents to display the effect of racism and societal corruption on individuals. Throughout Beloved, the relationships between the key characters are in a constant state of motion and fluidity, depending on the presence of the most influential character, Beloved. In particular, the relationships involving the character Beloved are often especially dynamic, and Beloved's presence in the lives of several characters frequently leaves them with significant emotional changes. Specifically, the cycle of Denver's maturity throughout the plot relates strongly to the power that Beloved had over her at any particular time. ...read more.

Middle

By the end of the novel, Denver's personality has completely transformed: "It was true. Paul D saw her the next morning when he was on his way to work and she was leaving hers. Thinner, steady in the eyes, she looked more like Halle than ever. She was the first to smile. "Good morning, Mr. D." "Well, it is now." Her smile, no longer the sneer he remembered, had welcome in it and strong traces of Sethe's mouth," (280). Morrison designed Beloved's character as a general representation of several common evils of society, including inordinate selfishness and the desire for revenge. Denver's character is easily manipulated by Beloved's strength, though eventually she is able to break free of Beloved's power. In Conrad's Heart of Darkness, the main character, Marlow, undergoes a drastic emotional and mental transformation, specifically due to his continual exposure to a secretive corruption of humanity. Even before he embarks on his journey, the mysteries of the jungle have fully enraptured Marlow: "There's no initiation either into such mysteries. He has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is also detestable. And it has a fascination, too, that goes to work upon him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Throughout Beloved, a reader can observe Beloved as a corrupt character because she fails to recognize the pains of others; instead she succumbs to the desire for revenge and selfishly takes control over primarily Sethe's but also Denver's life. Furthermore, Marlow's attitudes and personality changes are derived from his exposure to the corrupt character of Kurtz, an entity that caused Marlow to lose faith in humanity. Both of these corrupt characters stem from the society they each live in, societies broken down by the terrible effects of slavery. At several points both novels have a tone that leaves the reader with a feeling of disdain for the institution of slavery and the evils that it has imposed upon societies around the world for many centuries. The authors' attitudes leave strong impressions on the reader, which further successfully cause a feeling of pity for the characters negatively affected by slavery. Toni Morrison and Joseph Conrad have fashioned two seemingly unlike novels, though there are connections between the emotional paths of important characters in each one. Novels of self-discovery and change are often designed by the author to illuminate how societal influence or corruption causes the change within the individual; Beloved and Heart of Darkness are novels that successfully exemplify this intention. ...read more.

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