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GCSE: Joseph Conrad

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  1. DIscuss The Title Of Conrad's 'Heart Of Darkness'

    Central Africa. In a nutshell, 'Heart of Darkness' is about the journey of a man named Marlow into Africa. The main journey is the narrated tale, of the protagonists' physical journey, as he goes deeper and deeper into the heart of the jungle, or the 'Heart of Darkness', in search of Kurtz. However, as Marlow travels along the River Congo, he goes on a psychological journey into himself, and he discovers that there is evil in the soul of every man, in other words, every man has a 'Heart of Darkness'. The opening of 'Heart of Darkness' begins with a group of men, including Marlow and the narrator, on a 'cruising yawl' named the 'Nellie', waiting for the turn of the tide.

    • Word count: 1423
  2. Heart of Darkness

    It has a non-linear style of narration, the narrator switching back and forth as it explores the darker depths of the human psyche through the lens of colonialism. The novel is a 'frame tale' in that it is a story within a story and as it explores not only the effects of colonialism on the countries that were taken over, but also on the individuals that worked on behalf of the expansionist empires, individuals such as Marlow and Kurtz. This was seen as controversial given the importance of empire in the period that it was written.

    • Word count: 1094
  3. A Critical Commentary on the first 20 pages on The Heart of Darkness

    Marlow then imagines what London would have been like before it had been built on. He talks of the Romans and how the London they experienced was nothing like the one we have now. Marlow is pointing out that there was in fact a time when London was natural and although the Romans represent an invading force, they also represent culture and civilisation. At the time Heart of Darkness was written, the British Empire was at its peak, and Britain controlled colonies and dependencies all over the planet. The popular saying that "the sun never sets on the British Empire" was literally true.

    • Word count: 1388
  4. With Reference to the designated extract from Heart of Darkness write a detailed analysis. Pay particular attention to the narrative devices used and examine these features in relation to realism and/ or modernism.

    Conrad creates distance between himself and Marlow by incorporating an anonymous narrator. It is likely that Conrad chose this narrative technique to try and disassociate himself with the racist connotations throughout the novel, particularly Marlow's reaction to and treatment of the African natives. This technique creates a challenge for the reader, as it only makes suggestions and never explains what either Conrad or Marlow truly thought. Although Conrad first wrote 'Heart of Darkness' in 1899 it was not published until 1902. It therefore has one foot in the nineteenth century, and one in the twentieth, although it gestures towards modernism.

    • Word count: 1746
  5. Analizing Marlow

    He journeys through the Congo, trying to find the man called Kurtz. However, he becomes obsessed with meeting Kurtz, becoming more curious as he gets closer towards him. As Marlow gets closer and closer to Kurtz he understands that the man has gone insane and is now doing the most horrible deeds. Marlow gets so caught up in the image of Kurtz, even though he didn't even know him. Marlow begins to lose sight of everyone around him and concentrates on just the illusion and image of a man that he has never even seen.

    • Word count: 1333
  6. What is your impression of the description of settings and characters in the heart of darkness? Do the Africans seem stereotyped to you? What signs are there that the narrator is sympathetic towards them?

    He says that Marlow had "sunken cheeks, a yellow complexion, a straight back, an ascetic aspect, and, with his arms dropped, the palms of his hands faced outwards, resembled an idol." This is basically saying that even though he has, physically, seen better days, his mind and mental attitude have never been better. This could be hinting at the fact that, even though the coloured people look like they are strong and physically fit, their mental state is not at all equal to the British men.

    • Word count: 1393
  7. Heart of darkness provides us with a definitive guide on what it means to be a civilised human being. Discuss this statement with close reference to the novel.

    However the behaviour of the savages seem to be a lot more moral and civilised that the white man. A 'negro' of middle age is shot through the head because a white man became fed up of him. Another is beaten so badly that he is left to die slowly and painfully. Conrad uses incidents such as this to show the reader what a 'civilised' person is capable of. Marlow sees the result of what has been done and is disgusted. Marlow's opinions of civilisation are changed throughout the novel. When Marlow find out what Kurtz has done he is very much against him and believes he is not civilised but the end of the novel, when the darkness of Kurtz's mind and heart is truly shown.

    • Word count: 1383
  8. Conrad's usage of imagery in the "Heart of Darkness"

    During his time, British Imperialism spread all across Eastern Asia and the Africa. Regarding Africa, British colonies could be found in the southern and central part of the African continent. British settlers scrambled all across Africa to collect raw natural resources. Their purpose was to establish new markets for the benefit of their homeland country (Dahl 168). When Conrad set out to explore the Congo in 1890, he experienced the horrors of colonialism and imperialism that plagued central Africa. In comparison to Marlow's journey in, "Heart of Darkness," Conrad describes the suffering that the Africans go through due to British aggression.

    • Word count: 1667
  9. Comparison of Beloved by Toni Morrison and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

    Early in the novel, Denver tends to be characterized as a rude, selfish girl. When Paul D comes to 124 and causes with the baby's spirit to temporarily leave the house, Denver responds to him with sarcasm and immaturity, giving the house a tense atmosphere: "Now her mother was upstairs with the man who had gotten rid of the only company she had. Denver dipped a bit of bread into the jelly. Slowly, methodically, miserably she ate it," (20). Throughout her teenage years, Denver had become so dependent upon the "camaraderie" that the ghost had provided, and when the spirit left, she felt lost and alone.

    • Word count: 1309
  10. Heart of Darkness - The Named and the Unnamed

    Marlow goes into detail about two types of devils in the story, the weak, flabby devils and the strong, red-eyed devils. This refers to the types of people that he comes across on his journey. The weak, flabby devils are evil, but do not show it. These people attempt to hide the fact that they are doing wrong. Most people that Marlow comes across are weak, flabby devils. These people all remain unnamed because they hide who they are. An example of a person who shows this characteristic is the General Manager.

    • Word count: 1006
  11. Remind yourself of the opening passage of Heart of Darkness, as far as "…under the stars" and discuss its effectiveness as an opening to the novel.

    Furthermore, the narrator is mostly speaking in the first-person plural, telling us all four of Marlow's listeners think and feel, rather than having them speak themselves. The ambiguity and agreement of Marlow's listeners combine to give the feeling that they in fact represent conventional perspectives and values of the British establishment. He describes at length the appearance of the Thames as an "interminable waterway", which is perhaps important because he is almost saying here that it is going to be a never-ending journey.

    • Word count: 1144
  12. How do the authors of the two novels 'Broken April' and 'The Thief and the Dogs', use darkness to reflect the protagonist's state of mind?

    He is a victim of his community. He is born poor and deprived of the basic human needs. The irresponsible and inhuman act of his wife, his friend Illish Sidra and his master Rauf Ilwan has shaken his belief in love, friendship and human values that make human life worth living. Therefore, he is constantly living a lonely, forbidden, isolated and fearful life. The image of darkness which echo's throughout the novel highlights these feelings, which affect Said's state of mind and his view on life. In Broken April, Gjorg is the protagonist. He is portrayed as a shy, soft-spoken lad.

    • Word count: 1538
  13. Compare Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Coppola's Apocalypse Now, both being examples of journeys that interlace a physical concept to a spiritual one.

    connotes that conceivably Marlow could succumb to the jungle's personified 'will'. Conrad also uses personification and hyperboles to depict the physical journey, to pose the jungle as an ominous and foreboding place, "...the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest...there was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine." (pg33) As Marlow continues on his journey we discover several links between Marlow and Kurtz (a man who has become a deity amongst natives). A major indication occurs when Marlow observes a painting in an agent's room (central station).

    • Word count: 1896
  14. Kurtz And Marlow As "Doubles" in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

    Thus, the narrator makes a direct characteristic of Marlow. The first quality presented to the reader is Marlow's uniqueness: "The worst that could be said of him was that he did not represent his class" (Conrad p.7). The character is distinguished from the other sailors at the very beginning of the novel. As the narrative proceeds, the narrator adds up to this image: "Marlow was not typical (...)" (Conrad p.8). Similar to the first impression the reader gets of Marlow is the first characteristic Marlow hears about Kurtz: "He is a very remarkable person" (Conrad p.27).

    • Word count: 1209
  15. Bring out the significance of the title 'The secret sharer' - What do Legatt and the captain share and how does that affect the title of the story?

    "The shadowy, dark head, like mine" (pg 7) Legatt and the captain share very similar backgrounds, which draw a closeness and bond between these two men. They both attended the same sea school. "You're a Conway boy?" (pg 7) And there was only a two-year difference in age. "....but being a couple of years older" (pg 7) Throughout the story you can feel the connection Legatt and the captain share by both feeling complete strangers on board the ships. "I knew very little of my officers!"

    • Word count: 1254
  16. Heart of Darkness - The reality of Kurtz is shockingly removed from the expectationscreated of him in the sections of the novella.Discuss.

    Within the book "Heart of Darkness" there appears to be a low sense of reality as the book starts and continues. I think that the idea of reality is closely linked with the idea of madness and insanity; if someone has a grip on reality they are said to be 'sane', while if someone is proven to be mad then they had no hold onto reality. I believe that when the book was set Africa was responsible for mental disintegration as well as for physical illness and Kurtz, Marlow is told from the beginning, is mad.

    • Word count: 1041
  17. Heart of Darkness - Through a detailed analysis of a passage of your choice explore Conrad's techniques as a writer and the overall effects of the language.

    Yet these are only small and precise interjections that demonstrate the format of the novel. There is also a consistent delay in the decoding of events that lead to understated realizations. For example on 94, Marlow describes a sight of 'attempts at ornamentation', which turn out to be 'heads on stakes'. The realization is terse and shrouded within a subordinate clause. Conrad's manipulation of the syntax and language supports a surreal and passively horrifying representation of the story. At the beginning of this passage in which Conrad presents the death of Kurtz, the narrator, Marlow, tells of how Kurtz is

    • Word count: 1175
  18. Features of Twentieth Century Literature.

    Ulysses can be called the story of thought life of Stephen and Morgan within one day. Stream of consciousness is an emergent technique of 20th century novel, employed to explain human thoughts, feelings and stimulations. Stream of consciousness describes the flow of thoughts and feelings in the mind without a sequence, in other words in natural order.. Used for the first time by William James, Joyce gives new meanings to it by using in his novels, A Portrait, Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake .Joyce makes use of stream of consciousness technique In Ulysses Mr Prince dines alone in a restaurant .Joyce takes us to his mind journey; an internal monologue "here is the soup, the smoking soup.

    • Word count: 1287
  19. To what extent do I agree with Chinua Achebe's assertionthat Joseph Conrad was 'a bloody racist'.

    I think that any reader thinking that Marlow and Conrad are one and the same would be virtually correct. This means in my view that any likenesses and quotes that Marlow does or says can be directly linked to what Conrad believes in, therefore it is not a factor of how similar the two are as I see them as one entity. In the 'Roman passage' page 8 we can gain an acute insight into Conrads standpoint on conialism. First Marlow says [refering to the Romans] - 'They were no colonists... they were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force' This seems to show that Marlow sees the 'taking away' of other peoples land as conquering, and that colonialism is a completely seperate thing.

    • Word count: 1314
  20. Light and Darkness in Heart of Darkness.

    It had borne all ships whose names are like jewels flashing in the night of time. They all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch ......bearers of a spark from the sacred fire...the germs of empires." Light in this opening address, "jewels", "a spark from the sacred fire", "the germs of empires" can appear to be a extreme extolment of Britain's imperial might and the glory of its colonial endeavours. And when Marlow realizes that he was appointed into the Chief of the Inner Station, he states: "It was the farthest point of navigation and culminating point of my experience.

    • Word count: 1360
  21. The overall view of human nature in heart of darkness shown through the characters.

    The second category is made up of the natives, while Kurtz and Marlow together form the third category. We can see a clear contrast between the Europeans and the natives. They are different in everyway, especially the way they interact with each other. The Europeans in general who live in Africa form the first category. The manager, his nephew and the pilgrims are the main characters representing the European category. The way the Europeans force the natives to work in such appalling conditions; the men walking chained and the man being beaten unmercifully (p.39) are all good examples of the brutality the Europeans brought to Africa.

    • Word count: 1442
  22. Is The Secret Shareran appropriate title for this short story? Support your ideas with detail from the text.

    They both look alike and are conversing in whispers. They are even sitting the same way. Like two little twin brothers making up some plan, which will guarantee that they get into trouble. This comes before sharing a secret; this is the creation of a secret, which will only be between those two, so effectively they are sharing the secret. Legatts existence is so secret that the captain starts to doubt he even exists. He is so secret that he cannot exist.

    • Word count: 1965
  23. According to Seamus Deane, Translations is a play about

    Even as he attempts to demonstrate the invalidity of 'Tobair Vree' as rightful place-name through its seemingly illogical associations, Owen contradicts his own argument. The reality that Owen himself remembers the tale behind the name reinstates the fact that as insignificant as this narrative may be to him, it remains the carrier of history and memories, both public and private. The name not only retells the anecdote which defined 'Brian's Well', but also evokes Owen's memories of his grandfather. The Irish place-names had developed into historical, cultural and social storehouses through their varied associations and values.

    • Word count: 1936
  24. Representation of Women In Heart of Darkness.

    Heavens!" What he didn't realise, was that his power was given to him by her- therefore making her powerful. Furthermore, the aunt obtained some of her power from another woman: "I know the wife of a very high personage in the Administration... I (Marlow) had been represented to the wife of the high dignitary... an exceptional and gifted creature... " Knowing other powerful people can often make a person more powerful themselves and this proved itself in the case of Marlow's aunt and it was she who started him off on his `powerful' adventure. Before Charlie Marlow's adventure began, he came across two women, knitting black wool, at the front of the Company headquarters.

    • Word count: 1980
  25. I am now going to talk about: "How Evil is presented in the Novel" in particular I am going to focus on Imagery, Symbolism and finally metaphors.

    These two images instantly bring the knowledge of evil especially the heads. Any one who can have heads on there fence posts must be some sort of evil savage. Just like the Europeans thought the natives were. Marlow knows he has entered and uncivilised area. "Those heads on the stakes, if their faces had not been turned to the house" This sentence demonstrates quite a disgusting picture of the inhabitant of the house the heads have been turned to the house as a matter of pride.

    • Word count: 1346

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Compare Kurtz's African woman to "his Intended" and show how this contrast highlights the central theme of the novel: Darkness and Light in Heat of DarknessIn Joseph Conrad's novella, Heart of Darkness

    "In conclusion, Heart of Darkness is a mentally disturbing tale that delves deep into the human condition and its dark origins. Conrad develops concepts of darkness and light, and shows with linkage to the theme of appearance and reality how they can be confused. Two symbols represent these abstract ideas and concepts. These symbols are the two women associated with Kurtz: "His Intended" and the African mistress. The contrast between them differs not from the contrast between Europe and Africa. The two women portray, through the way they live, what is the appearance and reality of the human condition. All appearance does, in most cases and this one, is hide the reality. The reality is illustrated directly by the contrast between the two women. In fact, once Marlow penetrates the façade that the light of civilisation has placed over Kurtz's Intended, all he finds is darkness. It is this darkness that is both common to the Intended and the mistress, it is the darkness that unites them as human beings. It is the "Heart of Darkness." 1 Taken from the Introduction to the school text - Youth, Heart of Darkness and the End of the Tether"

  • To what extent do I agree with Chinua Achebe's assertionthat Joseph Conrad was 'a bloody racist'.

    "I have shown that Conrad and Marlow are one and the same and have been led to the conclusion through close reading of the opening of heart of darkness that Conrad is not, as Chinua Achebe states, 'a bloody racist'. In fact I believe the opposite statemen could be made - "Conrad was a minority voice speaking out against racism through his character Marlow in a time where racism was rife". I believe I am right because the evidence against Conrad is scarce and what little textual evidence there is can mostly be put down to ignorance which in my opinion can be let go, due to the fact that his overall message is an anti-racist one. I feel people who think that Joseph Conrad is racist based on Heart of darkness is wrong because of the reasons stated."

  • DIscuss The Title Of Conrad's 'Heart Of Darkness'

    "To conclude, the 'Heart of Darkness' within the play refers to the inner capability to commit evil acts in all men, and the evil of the empire underneath the front of 'spreading civilisation and the light of Christianity'. The two sections of the novel which I have chosen to examine are full of symbolic imagery, referring to the title, and raising questions in the readers mind about the greatness of Britain."

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