Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
1. Charley Marlow speaks of when he went "freshwater sailor". He landed a job as a steamboat captain quite quickly and it took him some time to reach his steam boat. Once he arrived, they informed him that it was at the bottom of the river and that it would be 3 months for it to be repaired. When Marlow is there, he describes the "cannibals" or "criminals" that are put to work producing ivory. He describes their physical condition and mental state. You can see he thinks he is better than them because of he is white, but not as much as is evident with the other white characters. Kurtz, who is known for producing the most ivory from all the stations and Marlow wants to meet him and becomes enveloped with the idea because he feels he has nothing to look forward to. Marlow picks up his boat and sets sail with some "pilgrims" and "cannibals". They find a hut where fire wood is left for them and Marlow finds an old book. Natives soon attack from the jungle, but they manage to make it out. They finally get to Kurtz's station but meet a Russian man who tells them that Kurtz has made himself a god with the workers and goes raiding to get more ivory. After trying to escape back to the natives, Kurtz gets on the steam boat ad starts to die. He leaves Marlow with documents and a pamphlet on civilizing the savages. His last words are "The Horror! The Horror!" which Marlow later lies about to his Fiancee and says his last words were her name just as Europeans in Africa used to lie about what was actually happening in Africa because they knew the truth was harder for Europeans who lived in Europe to grasp.
2. The fine line between light and darkness. This isn't just color tones, but black and white, good and bad, African and European; very contrasting subjects. Through the book, you find yourself greeted with phrases such as "so dark green as to be almost black. Fringed with white surf..." or "paddled by black fellows.' You can see from afar the whites of their eye balls glistening." where black is comes in and is followed by white. "It looked startling round his black neck, this bit of white thread from beyond the seas." We see the theme when Conrad describes his black helper and how he finds himself wondering if this cannibal might have some humanity within himself. This conveys that although one is dark skinned and the other light skinned, they are both humans. We always choose to see the differences between black and white, light and darkness and Conrad paints a picture where both are intertwined and the line is blurred.
3.Conrad's tone seems very detail oriented. He doesn't describe everything with every detail, but only the most important pictures and with selectively picked out words which help the story and message come across better.
“Black shapes crouched, lay, sat between the trees leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth, half coming out, half effaced within the dim light, in all the attitudes of pain, abandonment, and despair. Another mine on the cliff went off, followed by a slight shudder of the soil under my feet. The work was going on. The work! And this was the place where some of the helpers had withdrawn to die. "
Conrad, from what I found, also has an outspoken and open tone. He tells of the horrors of Africa without speaking of the more graphic descriptions and he doesn't hold back about how the Whites treated the Natives."It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind—as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much."
4. Metaphors are greatly used by Conrad to describe many aspects of the book. The use of metaphors when describing the wilderness and the natives are my favorites. Conrad compares the natives to phantoms and corpses in order to show that they were sure of death. He presents the wilderness in different lights and compares them to different things to show that the wild has many different sides to it.
"the playful paw strokes of the wilderness."Imagery is of importance in Conrad's works because they are based on the combination of images and dialogue.
"The tidal current runs to and fro in its unceasing service, crowded with memories of men ships it had borne to the rest of home or to the battles of the sea."
Similes are also an important aspect and are noticeable throughout the text. The similes help the reader see what the narrator sees, which in turn helps the reader have an easier time grasping every picture the narrator captures.
“A beardless, boyish face, very fair, no features to speak of, nose peeling, little blue eyes, smiles and frowns chasing each other over that open countenance like sunshine and shadow on a wind-swept plain.”
Personification is a great way to bring the themes of the novel to life. It also established his tone for the book. Using personification, Conrad helps the reader imagine, for example, the characters of the ships.
"But the ships wouldn’t even look at me."
Symbolism is important to this work because it gives the story another layer that the reader has to analyze to completely understand the author's piece as a whole. Conrad uses symbolism in describing subjects that come out just once and also continue for the entirety of the novel."The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky—seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness."