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From a literal viewpoint, the novels Beloved by Toni Morrison and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad have no correlation on the grounds that they feature entirely different settings, timeframes, character types, and style. However, when the overall themes and messages of both books are examined, the reader is able to see that both stories make strong statements about societies plagued by racism.
In Morrison’s novel, Beloved, Denver’s character undergoes significant personality changes that vary with the progression of the plot and especially with Beloved’s presence in 124; these changes mirror the emotional and psychological journey of the character Marlow from Heart of Darkness. Both of these evolving characterizations reflect the authors’ intents to display the effect of racism and societal corruption on individuals.
Throughout Beloved, the relationships between the key characters are in a constant state of motion and fluidity, depending on the presence of the most influential character, Beloved. In particular, the relationships involving the character Beloved are often especially dynamic, and Beloved’s presence in the lives of several characters frequently leaves them with significant emotional changes. Specifically, the cycle of Denver’s maturity throughout the plot relates strongly to the power that Beloved had over her at any particular time.
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.
This misery lasts until the moment Beloved, the baby’s materialized spirit, arrived at 124. The majority of the relationship between Beloved and Denver throughout the remainder of the book features mainly Denver’s adoration and fascination with Beloved. Once again, Denver is captivated by Beloved, and would gladly do anything for her. Denver’s devotion continues to the point of Denver acting as the caretaker for the demanding Beloved and the weakening Sethe: “Denver served them both.
Washing, cooking, forcing, cajoling her mother to eat a little now and then, providing sweet things for Beloved as often as she could to calm her down. It was hard to know what she would do from minute to minute. When the heat got hot, she might walk around the house naked or wrapped in a sheet, her belly protruding like a winning watermelon. Denver thought she understood the connection between her mother and Beloved: Sethe was trying to make up for the handsaw; Beloved was making her pay for it,” (263).
As Beloved established herself as a part of Denver and Sethe’s lives, Denver grew stronger, more confident, and more mature. She eventually realized the detriment that Beloved was causing (especially to Sethe), and regained her grip on reality without Beloved controlling it. By the end of the novel, Denver’s personality has completely transformed: “It was true. Paul D saw her the next morning when he was on his way to work and she was leaving hers. Thinner, steady in the eyes, she looked more like Halle than ever. She was the first to smile. “Good morning, Mr. D. ” “Well, it is now.
” Her smile, no longer the sneer he remembered, had welcome in it and strong traces of Sethe’s mouth,” (280). Morrison designed Beloved’s character as a general representation of several common evils of society, including inordinate selfishness and the desire for revenge. Denver’s character is easily manipulated by Beloved’s strength, though eventually she is able to break free of Beloved’s power. In Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the main character, Marlow, undergoes a drastic emotional and mental transformation, specifically due to his continual exposure to a secretive corruption of humanity.