Essay on Language in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

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Use of Language in Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad is a story that connects the audience to the narrator’s senses. We come to understand the environment, the setting, the other charters, and Kurtz strictly from the narrator’s point-of-view, as he experiences things.

We are locked out of Conrad’s (the narrator in this case) world, allowed to feel only what he let’s us, see the savages as he does, through his eyes, feel with his body. We are not able to see how the world views him. Is he seen as superior, a drone, a sailor? His dreamlike consciousness navigates us, the readers, down the river as if we are a part of the flow of things, ripples in the water, patches of the darkness.

Conrad uses
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When you read: “she rang under my feet like an empty Huntley & Palmer biscuit-tin kicked along the gutter,” I can see it and hear it and almost feel the vibrations of the tin. (99)

The darkness, reader as part of the darkness: The darkness of man, is meant to be universal. All men can relate to the drums, there’s a great passage where Conrad explicitly says so, “Ugly. Yes, it was ugly enough; but if you were man enough you would admit to yourself that there was in you just the faintest trace of a response to the terrible frankness of that noise, a dim suspicion of there being a meaning in it which you - you so remote from the night of first ages - could comprehend.” (109) There are implicit phrases as well, woven neatly around the events. “I assure you that never before, did this land, this river, this jungle, the very arch of this blazing sky, appear to me so hopeless, and so dark.” (135) The narrator himself wonders about his own darkness. The darkness is related in the book to health, success, savages, and humanity.

Memory verses sense of memory: His story couldn’t be real memories, but perceptions of the memories, mutated with time, flourished by the total experience. We know that Conrad himself had similar experiences to the narrator of his story. The writer’s memory has been fictionalized.

The rape of the land, the consequences to the sole, the temptation of solitude, were a dark challenge, constructing moral dilemmas.

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