The remainder of the novel Essay
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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? The tone at the start of the novel is grim and sets the scene for the rest of the narrative. This is shown when the frame narrator says brooding gloom and mournful gloom (page 31 and 33) it can give the idea that the rest of the novel will follow path and be grim as the first pages are.
It also introduces the themes of the rest of the novel when the frame narrator talks about Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Franklin who were involved in Imperialism, this is introduced with such phrases as bearing the sword, and often the torch (page 32) this gives an idea that the men who have left the Thames bear the sword and torch of Imperialism and that the frame narrator is no doubt in favour of Imperialism.
The first pages also show us that there will not only be a frame narrator as he talks first, but also there will be another narrator, of course who is Marlow you can see this when Marlow refers to Romans coming down the Thames and invading. Imagery is introduced when the frame narrator sees London as the scared fire of civilisation (page 32) and Marlow sees London as one of the dark places of the earth (page 33).
These phrases give contrasting views, the frame narrators of light with reference to fire and Marlow’s who refers to dark. The journey on the Thames is certainly not the only journey within the novel, there is also the Roman journey up the Thames (page 33 and 34) 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. As well as these physical journeys, there are also journeys in the mind, Kurtz the most noticeable as he was once a civilised man who changes his ways within Africa mainly for the lust of Ivory.
The narrative technique within the novel is not the typical 19th century omniscient narrator which was one with the Authors point of view, but Heart of Darkness contradicts this, Conrad uses two narrators to distance himself from the text, so publishers wouldn’t believe that this was his own point of view within the text on Imperialism then there would be a threat of the novel not being published as it would be against many other people view on Imperialism which was that Imperialism is a great thing.
By using this technique he makes us think that it was a subjective view instead of giving his own view but this seems not to be the case if you look at past history of his life. The frame narrator sets the scene, and provides the first references to light and dark e. g. unstained light (page 31). Although he refers to light, he repeats phrases of darkness many times e. g. mournful gloom and brooding gloom (page 31 and 33) to show that the light over London weren’t clear and was only light over the Thames as that was linked with Imperialism more than London.
The Frame Narrators point of view on Imperialism is given to us with the references to light, but after Marlow’s yarn has been told his opinion on Imperialism has been changed to a dark one as Marlow’s is, you see this as he says the heart of an immense darkness (page 105) this shows his difference in opinion from the start of the text as he saw the Thames as something light but now he sees it as something dark. The frame narrator also gives us a view on Marlow; the Frame Narrator says Marlow is the only man on the boat who still followed the sea (page 33).
He also compares Marlow to a Buddha, and says he resembled an idol (page 31). This may show Marlow is a respected member of the crew on the boat. He warns us of Marlow’s yarns saying that seamen’s yarns are direct and simple, but Marlow’s were a contrast and are not looking to the inside of the kernel (page 33) but in fact looking to the outside this means that Marlow looks at the journey and not the destination. This can be seen throughout the novel as most of it is on the journey down the River Congo and not the destination he gets to after travelling down the Congo.