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GCSE: Joseph Conrad

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  1. Heart of Darkness. Discuss the variety of ways in which the title of the novella might be considered an appropriate one.

    His description is a way for Conrad telling us that England used to have and, maybe still does have a heart of darkness. The narrator tells us that there is a 'mournful gloom' over London, 'the biggest, and the greatest town on earth', to show its darkness. Marlow gives reference the sailors and explorers that had sailed out of London and says that they were 'bearers of a spark' - the spark is civilisation. However, Conrad is being ironic as he believes although they bring civilisation to other people; they also bring the 'darkness' within them.

    • Word count: 2140
  2. The Character of Kurtz in "Heart of Darkness"

    His story is portrayed through the eyes of Marlow, who is sent on a mission in Africa to rescue him. Throughout the novel, he tries to get into Kurtz's mind and understand the motives behind his actions, as well as the way in which the jungle appeals to him. The first word that draws the reader's attention in the passage is "spell". It relates to mystical power, which leads to the thought that there is no explanation behind it that Marlow or any other representative of the more developed civilization, for that matter, can comprehend.

    • Word count: 616
  3. Opposing Cultures in "Heart of Darkness"

    The rise of the dilemma can be observed clearly in a passage in the book describing the African landscape and contrasting it to the lifestyle he is used to. The first phrase that draws the reader's attention in the passage is "the utter savagery", since it directly describes the environment Marlow is in from his own standpoint. The word "utter", which means "complete" or "extreme", implies that this new world is completely different to the one Marlow is used to.

    • Word count: 830
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. With reference to the first eleven pages discuss the significance of time shifts in Heart of Darkness(TM)

    'Heart of Darkness' does the complete opposite however, which leads to many time shifts in the novella. The novella is, of course, based on true events that took place in Conrad's life as a sailor. But he uses a framed narrative (a narrator inside a narrative) to allow him to recollect and use other events of the past to accentuate his point. An example of this is when Marlow, the 'hero' of the novella, begins his story of long-gone tales of woe and immediately harks back to 'very old times, when the Romans came here'. He goes on to talk about how all those years ago even the most civilised modern city of London would have been savage and rudimentary; with 'swamps' and 'wild men' inhabiting what is now the Thames estuary.

    • Word count: 836
  7. How does the preparation for the river journey at the start of Heart of Darkness prepare the reader for the themes, imagery and narrative technique of the remainder of the novel?

    which can be seen as a summary of the whole novel as the Thames at that time is seen as wild and savage by Marlow as it has many links to Imperialism, also the young citizen in a toga can be seen as Kurtz due to the fact that he too turned savage like Kurtz. Another journey is the one on the Congo this is the main journey and of course the journey that the novel is based upon, it shows how dark Imperialism really is and what it can do to people like Kurtz who loses his mind which is shown in his report which it says kill the brutes.

    • Word count: 2954
  8. Heart of Darkness

    He is also described in appearance as an unusual person: "He had sunken cheeks, a yellow complexion, a straight back, an ascetic aspect, and, with his arms dropped, the palms of his hands outwards, resembled an idol." Conrad then further explains that not only is Marlow's appearance different, but also his views and opinions of the world also differ from those of the other characters as he has a completely opposite view of the Thames from them, as they think it to be a wonderful, peaceful place: '"And this also," said Marlow suddenly, "has been one of the dark places of the earth."'

    • Word count: 834
  9. 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
  10. 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 r****t 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
  11. Apocalypse Now Appropriation of Heart of Darkness

    Heads and hands were cut off and women held hostage were brutalised and raped. Joseph Conrad in his life had been victim to a brutal regime. His father was a revolutionist fighting for Poland's freedom from the Russians. Joseph was raised in a place of hard and cruel conditions, and watched the deterioration of his mother to tuberculosis. Yet at the same time he wholeheartedly embraced the English culture and language, becoming a master writer of the English language. There is no doubt that the early years of Conrad's life would have affected his views towards colonialism.

    • Word count: 2137
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. The Heart of Darkness Marlow's story of the Roman Conquest of Britain as an Allegory to Marlow's experience in Africa

    The conquerors used brute force, Marlow says, "They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force" Rome came to conquer Britain and the climate was different. The culture was different; Roman soldiers saw it as a misery to be in Britain. They couldn't wait to go home. The only thing that kept the Romans in England was the hope for promotion In Marlow's time Britain set out to civilize Africa, to help develop the country and make the people more independent.

    • Word count: 2692
  15. The Heart Of DarknessRemind yourself of the passage from the beginning of chapter 1 as far as "...under the stars", and discuss its effectiveness as an opening to the novel. In the course of your answer:

    The sky before us is described as being "welded together without a joint". This is an interesting description showing to me that what can be seen has no beginning and no end. This could be relating to the journey about to be undertaken. It is also a slightly strange description as I'm sure that is what it looks like, however, the sky never does touch the sea and who is to define whether or not it does. Conrad also uses a lot of colour in this description of the scene we find ourselves in.

    • Word count: 963
  16. The novel "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad centers on both a political and a personal theme. The major themes explored in the extract taken from "Heart of Darkness" are the controversy of imperialism, colonisation

    One of the main themes that Conrad explored was journey. It is obvious that the text is largely about the journey or an adventure of Marlow to Africa in the search of Kurtz. However, multiple interpretations of the text suggest that the novel is based on the journey of Marlow's subconscious as he begins the journey into his mind. Arguably, Conrad, the author may have used Marlow as a device to invite the readers into his subconscious. The theme of the self and the unconscious mind are also explored. Linking to idea of journey, the passage of time or life is also referred to, "flash of lighting", "we live in a flicker".

    • Word count: 962
  17. 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 'n***o' 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
  18. How does Conrad present the company and Marlow's attitude towards its representatives? "Heart of Darkness"

    This makes it even harder for the reader to interpret whether colonisers deserve respect or not. "I shook hands with this miracle," "perhaps there was nothing within him". Although both this views describe the representatives of the company as unreal or almost dream-like, he portrays one as something miraculous and perhaps meaning something (not again someone) to be appreciated, and the other as hollow and inhuman as a "suspicion". This can be further examined and proved by the difference in his tone when describing the accountant and general manger. When describing the general manger his tone is very critical and he speaks as though he his desperate to find as much points as he can that will undermine him.

    • Word count: 2522
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. The effectiveness of the starting passage for

    This tells us that he is important and almost the most "realistic" character among the crew members, as the others seem to be stereotypical almost as if they don't simply represent one single person but a whole wide range of British society. The narrator also expresses the views of the crew members in the first person plural which helps create the image of them representing society. The setting of the start is on the river Thames, "the beginning of an interminable waterway" as though the sea is endless and you can follow it "to the uttermost ends of the earth".

    • Word count: 620
  24. 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
  25. Critical review of Joseph Conrad's

    The story takes places during a turbulent colonial period of Africa. This factor clashes the two opposites: "civilized" whites and "savaged" blacks. Whites invaded the foreign land seeking riches and power, from which many of them were restricted at home. Here in Africa overwhelmingly stronger Europeans manipulated the native population treating them like animals. They justified their actions by declaring "we are here to bring civilization to Africa", however such phrases were not supported by any actions towards aiding the people.

    • Word count: 995

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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