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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.

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Introduction

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. p.111 - 112 The section that I have chosen is the culminating point of Marlow's journey and though it has been exaggerated through a barrage of rumours and enigmatic whisperings, Conrad's writing continues to be mysterious and confusing, consistent with the style of the novel's narrative. In general there are certain recurring elements to Conrad's writing which emphasise a feeling of confusion and surrealism in that everything is treated with an ominous sense of calmness inducing a somewhat dream-like state on the journey. Firstly, the narrative itself is a mixture of perspectives and voices; that of Marlow telling the tale, interruptions from his listeners and Conrad himself. The effect is dramatic at points and adds to the confusion. For example on page 60 Marlow is cut off by an unspecified listener, 'Try to be civil Marlow', as he describes a dream and shows an element of contempt for his conservative listeners. ...read more.

Middle

This consequently brings into question whether the 'idea' even exists. Then as Marlow continues his journey/ narrative he discovers on page 55 that the colonization in Africa, 'has no more moral purpose at the back of it, than there is in burglars breaking into a safe', demonstrating the progression and development of understandings through the simple telling of the story. The effect is one of intrigue and a desire to extract meaning from the confusion. Marlow is then 'transfixed' by Kurtz in his death state; this highlights the fact that Kurtz is presented like an idol or a drug that allures Marlow. The macabre union or juxtaposition of Kurtz's death against Marlow blowing 'out the candle' represents the death of an era of self -belief and moral subconscious, which Kurtz symbolises. This is because in Heart of Darkness Kurtz is the only being that is true to himself although his morals have become somewhat corrupted and with his death dies the ideals of self belief and unrestraint, which is what Marlow so admires. ...read more.

Conclusion

The attitude towards women as portrayed in the novel also comes into question then, for men are as guilty as avoiding truth as women, and it is the men who keep the women from such truth and therefore the source of such illusion is men. Finally as Kurtz's death is announced in poor English the irony of its expression begins to deconstruct Kurtz's status. It is evident that Kurtz is an important figure, and so it would have been expected that his death would have been proclaimed as grandly and eloquently as he was presented. However the four words, 'Mistah Kurtz-he dead', contradict his eloquence and as the writer Chinua Achebe says, 'In this case the incomprehensible grunts that had thus far served them for speech suddenly proved inadequate for Conrad's purpose of letting the European glimpse the unspeakable craving'1. This irony is achieved by the stripping away of Kurtz's 'voice' while the natives are given a language, which is understood as something other than 'babble'. Kurtz who is usually dynamic and active has been reduced to idleness 'lying here'. This is further accentuated by the fact that after 'the voice has gone', Kurtz is merely a disembodied figure. 1 http://www.chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/pursuits/achebehod.html ...read more.

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