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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.

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Introduction

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. At the time when Joseph Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness, the British Empire was at its highest, and Britain controlled colonies from all over the world. The main topic of Heart of Darkness is imperialism, and the policy of Britain using their influence over other areas through military, political, and economic force. The narrator (who remains unnamed) expresses the mainstream belief that imperialism is a glorious and worthy enterprise. In fact, in Conrad's time, the "empire" was one of the main values of British subjects, the basic term through which Britain defined its identity. The first passage of Heart of Darkness is written in the narrative, and the book opens with a thorough description of their beginnings in the journey - the Thames (this in itself is very important through the book), and the surrounding area, Gravesend. The narrator who starts off Heart of Darkness is unnamed, just like the other three listeners on the boat, with the reader just getting their profession (Director of Companies, Lawyer, and Accountant). ...read more.

Middle

The description he has given of the Thames is in fact similar in ways to the way he later describes the river in South Africa. By doing this, he has shown his feelings from early on. By linking the Thames & the Congo, it is has shown how they have certain similarities. Conrad has given us the foundation of the path that we go on to follow throughout the book. It is fascinating how his descriptions of the other boatmen give the impressions they do, and how this, in particular, goes on to influence our views in the rest of the book. Of course, Marlow is the only one we really need be concerned with, as it is he who goes on to co-narrate the rest of the book. The Director of Companies doubles as the captain and the host. This shows how they generally look upon him with affection, trust and respect. The Lawyer is older than the rest and possesses many virtues. The Accountant is toying with dominoes, trying to start a game. ...read more.

Conclusion

Conrad mentions "Sir Francis Drake to Sir John Franklin," two of the famous explorers that travelled down the same river. During this same passage he then talks about feelings of the British people - "the germs of empires," who manipulated other human beings and resources. This goes a long way to revealing Conrad's view on the slavery and demolition. Despite all the mention of it in Heart of Darkness, it is noticeable how Conrad assumes people's knowledge of colonialism. The resentment of Marlow's recollection makes obvious Conrad's own strong bias against colonialism, which he does wants to pass on to the reader. Overall, the introduction serves as a good beginning to the book. In the passage, Conrad manages to introduce most of his main themes. There is darkness, which is very large topic, and how it can serve/be viewed in different contexts. We are made aware of Marlow himself and his unreliability/madness (caused due to the voyage...). Also, there is already a brief introduction into his views on colonialism/imperialism too. Due to this, you get an impression of his views early on, and as a result almost 'get ready' to view the rest of the book in the way he may of intended you to. ...read more.

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