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The Similarities and Differences Between Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and Apocalypse Now

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Throughout the course of the novel and the movie, we see many similarities and differences in the way the way the themes and messages are represented. Conrad must use wonderful imagery, the “lighting and setting” of a scene, in Heart of Darkness to convey his meaning to the reader. Coppola relies solely on what you see happening in Apocalypse Now and must therefore carefully choose the lighting and setting of a scene to convey a similar meaning created by the imagery of Conrad. It is this one notices in the scenes killing the helmsman in Heart of Darkness and Chief in Apocalypse Now.
Conrad has a very complex way of writing that allows his imagery to work the way it does in setting the scene for the death of the helmsman. We see him slowly dying in the “pilot-house”. After being hit with the spear, he “fell to the ground hitting his head twice upon the wheel”. Conrad goes on to describe how the helmsman held the spear as it stuck out of his body while Marlow watched realizing that he was standing in a pool of the helmsman’s blood. The “lighting” in this scene is dark. The river they are traveling down has trees on either side that have many limbs and large leaves hanging down that shade the river very well. This allows for what appears to be a morbid, dark scene appropriate for the death of the helmsman. The setting of this scene, as before mentioned is the pilot-house of the boat they are traveling in. The setting shows that even in when he is in the place he knows best, because he drives the boat, he is still in danger.
After the helmsman’s death, Marlow proceeds to take off his socks and shoes to rid himself of the blood that they are covered with. A day or so later, Marlow pushes the helmsman off into to the river so that...


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...e same tools though one had to create the image in the brain of his reader and the other showed to the viewer through the image on the screen. Chief and the helmsman were both killed by a spear, but in different spots on their boat. The helmsman died in a pool of blood, while Chief did not. Both bodies were taken by the river to a place unknown. Conrad and Coppola both symbolized the river as a greater power. This could suggest a power that should not be tampered with. Both men were very talented in their craft and portraying the scene in a way that sent chills down the reader’s, or viewer’s, spine. They both used the lighting and setting of the scene to create a dreary mood for Chief and the helmsman to die in. The symbolism of the river helps in the creation of this dreary mood.



Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: Knopf, 1993. Print.


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