Heart of Darkness Essay
Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website!
Often, an author of a work of literature will raise questions in one’s mind, but will not answer it to ensure contemplation of the idea presented before the reader. In his novel, Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad utilizes characterization, narration, and heavy imagery to effectively raise questions in the reader’s mind as the book continues in its tedious, yet poetic journey on the Congo. Conrad uses a lot of action to describe his characters because there isn’t much physical description or speech.
Since Marlow is the protagonist, he is given more of an in-depth look. All the others, including Kurtz, show a great space between their words and their actions. Often their actions are far more indicative of their true character than their speech. He effectively uses characterization to bring up questions well worth contemplation, such as “Why are there only two characters with names? ” No one has a name except for Marlow and Kurtz. Everyone just has a profession: the accountant, the harlequin, and the manager.
Conrad does not explain why all but two characters are nameless. Being nameless creates a lack of emotion and sympathy from the reader; giving a more distant look on how mankind behaves when utterly alone in a place they do not understand or comprehend. It illustrates the dehumanization of the men in the wilderness of the Congo. In the beginning we are given an outside look at Marlow as he introduces us to him and the story that he will tell.
A question may draw the reader to think, “What is the point of the narrator in the first place? ” This has much to do with the setting so Marlow’s story is stopped and the reader is able to hear commentary on the Thames River, thereby connecting the parallel between the Thames and the Congo, and later, the parallel between Marlow and Kurtz. The narrator is mostly to see more commentary and connections.
Though most questions are not answered, Conrad has given the reader a small break by actually answering this one question here: “…to him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze, in the likeness of one of those misty halo’s that sometimes are made visible by the spectral illumination of moonshine. ” Namely, to know the story, you need to know the outside as well as the inside. Language is another way of characterization to raise questions in a reader’s mind.
A well respected critic of Heart of Darkness, Chinua Achebe looks into the writing of Joseph Conrad and expresses critique towards racism in the novel. The question that may come into a readers mind often would be along the lines of “Was Joseph Conrad indeed racist towards the natives in the Congo? ” By looking at the different ways that the characters speak, it may give the reader an answer worth thinking about. The language in the novel portrays the supposed superiority of white men over the native Africans. There is the standard British that is used.
Since Marlow is British and for the most part, the narrator of this frame story, his thoughts are all of English witticism and origin. Generally, only the white people speak in standard English. Some characters, such as the brick maker and harlequin, have erratic speech. Their speeches are marked with a lot of hyphens, which show their uncertainty and hesitation. Then there is the Pidgin English that a black slave or cannibal needs to communicate vital information, but their speech is littered with incorrect grammar and accents highlighting their inability to completely function in the white man’s world.
The native Africans and slaves for the most part use wordless cries and grunts and do not speak English at all. They communicate non verbally through gestures or loud emotional cries, but these are unintelligible to Marlow except in instances where the cries are over emotional, drawing him into it all. This brings up yet another question to contemplate: “Do the natives communicate more effectively than Marlow and his crew? ” Even early in the novel, the breakdown of language begins, as seen here: “We exchanged a few words lazily.
Afterwards there was silence on board the yacht. For some reason or other we did not begin that game of dominoes. We felt meditative and fit for nothing but placid staring. ” (chapter 1, paragraph 4) Joseph Conrad’s writing style of using characterization raises awareness of Joseph Conrad’s themes and motifs hidden within his dark story. Though he does not answer any questions, taking information from each character’s behavior and the heavily used imager, one can assume different themes, otifs, and answers inside the novel.
The interwoven affects that raise questions in one’s mind do indeed make one contemplate about the knowledge and experience that the author used to form this novel. This leads one to understand each of the implied questions that he leaves one with. By using characterization, Joseph Conrad explores questions that maybe even he didn’t exactly know the answers to. This leaves plenty of spacious room for contemplation about the supposed greatness of humankind.