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Commentary on the first 13 pages of "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad.

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Introduction

Commentary on the first 13 pages of: Heart of Darkness - By Joseph Conrad The 'haze' of the novel is introduced on the very first page, reiterated by the 'gloom' and the 'misty halos' the prospect of hidden, dark and mystifying secrets establish the grounds for discovery and draw the reader in very early on. The way Conrad opens the novel with this 'haze' combined with the 'sunken cheeks [and] yellow complexion' of Marlow indicate that that the story told will not end in light, but in darkness; this leaves a shadow over the whole novel, but, however entices the reader into understanding the becoming of this darkness, which is connected to the way Marlow is enticed into the Heart of Darkness. This is because darkness gains its power from its ability to conceal things Marlow is too frightened to face. The beginning of the novel is correlates powerfully with the opening of Conrad's fourth chapter in The Nigger of the Narcissist. ...read more.

Middle

As Conrad gets deeper into the novel and the plot, the language also starts to fragment into trails of thought rather than sentences; this is vital as it represents the way the deeper Marlow goes into his story and his Heart of Darkness, the more you question your existence and therefore start to go mad, reducing any sense previously obtained. 'What redeems it is an idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in that idea-something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer sacrifice to...'; the structure of his words are fluid, showing helplessness in what he is about to say, more significantly Marlow's speech then breaks off - it does not trail away - and it breaks off because the suggestions of the image he has just used are reminiscent of his past and therefore harmful. What is dominant in this opening passage is the theme of Imperialism. ...read more.

Conclusion

The wool is black implying that the company is knitting the fate of the Africans and therefore playing God on deciding who in the Congo will live or die. Related to this, careless way of treating death, Marlow is then led into a dimly lit office-this lighting reflects the "shady" and ambiguous morals of the Company- and is significant because he only speaks with the Company's President for forty-five seconds, suggesting that the Company views Marlow-and other people-as disposable. Finally, one of the most stirring parts of these first ten pages is the examination by the Company's Doctor. The doctor 'ask[s Marlow] whether [he] would let [the doctor] measure his head'. This gives the impression that the doctor is measuring whether Marlow is capable of going mad and this danger which lies in the Congo is further enhanced by the way the doctor never sees those who return- implying they don't return or that 'the changes [that] take place inside' are too drastic for them to have the sense to see him. Amelia Christie-Miller ...read more.

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