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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.

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Introduction

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. Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' is an early modernist novella. Peter Brooks has described it as 'A detective story gone modernist'. He chose this description because although 'Heart of Darkness' is an adventure story, it is not a typical detective tale as the inner narrator, Marlow, talks and philosophises far too much, and there is simply not enough action. 'Heart of Darkness' has often been described as an autobiographical work. Conrad himself made a journey, to the Congo in 1889 and captained a river steamboat. Peter Ackroyd claims the novel 'seems to reach into the heart of Conrad himself' and capture the effects of his expedition. Conrad became haunted by trauma and illness after his journey into the Congo and much of this is evident in his novella. It is however not true to say that Conrad and Marlow are the same person. Marlow is simply a projected personae created by Conrad from his own experiences. Conrad creates distance between himself and Marlow by incorporating an anonymous narrator. ...read more.

Middle

Conrad has been accredited with writing a 'Harrowing Critique of Western Colonialism'. This is not only due to his explicit exposure of the atrocities of European colonialism but also his cunning use of vocabulary. He refers to the 'merry dance of death and trade' (p.31) as well as an 'inhabited devastation' (p.32) when illustrating the horrors of the colonisation of Africa by Europe. 'Heart of Darkness' was written at a time when Africa was entirely carved up and shared out between a number of European countries. Conrad seems to be exposing the predatory nature of these countries and their attitudes towards colonisation, and particularly focuses on the Belgian Congo. He does not however, entirely condemn colonisation. He does not suggest any alternative, nor does he suggest that African natives are capable of running their own country. Marlow does not make any attempt to understand the African culture, nor does he consider them as equals. Africa is seen very much as an antithesis to Europe, and therefore to civilisation. Even the title of the novella "Heart of Darkness" presents Africa as an uncivilized and primitive land, and could be accused of dehumanizing and dispersonalising Africa. Marlow views what is happening to the African natives from a distance and although he does respond to their treatment by the colonisers he does not react in any way. ...read more.

Conclusion

This all seems to help create the common modernist image of a desolate world. Although Conrad does not celebrate the state of the modern world, he, like so many modernist writers, was concerned with honoring the creativity of language. His presentation of 'insanity' is followed by a glorious use of vocabulary; 'lugubrious drollery'. His description of the 'black fellows' is also somewhat creative. He describes their faces as 'grotesque masks' and illustrates the 'glistening' (p.30) whites of their eyeballs seen from afar. The inhabited devastation is described as 'drowned' in a 'blinding sunlight' (p.32). Both the words, 'blinding' and 'drowning' have negative connotations and are used here to create the desolate negative image of the modern world Conrad was keen to present. This 'recrudescence of glare' (p.32) created by Conrad is an incredibly creative use of language and vocabulary. Not only through the content of his text, but also through the use of his vocabulary and narrative, Conrad has created in "Heart of Darkness" an exemplary Modern Text. Its exposure of the precarious bases of civilisation and its sceptical inquiry into what sustains value and meaning to human life are typical modernist traits. The political and social subject matters of "Heart of Darkness"; imperialism and colonialism, race and gender have proved increasingly controversial in the course of the twentieth century, and this is why the novella has received so much criticism and analysis. ...read more.

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