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The Role of Marlow as Narrator in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

Powerful Essays
The Role of Marlow as Narrator in Heart of Darkness

Whether Marlow is, or is not, Conrad has been discussed extensively. Clearly, Marlow is both, at the same time that he is neither. Heart of Darkness is not, then, Marlow's story exclusively. And if we examine it for a moment as the creation of the nameless member of Marlow's audience, it takes on a different coloration. The narrator's inclusion of Marlow's story within his point of view appears as a deliberate attempt on his part to frame the concrete world and man's involvement with this world in a vision which negates the reality of both. "Heart of Darkness" creates for us the visible surface of life, but does so in such a way that we never forget that this surface is a lie. It leads us to Kurtz, but does so in such a way that we never accept his idealism at face value. And this destruction of both possible grounds for the self, grounds toward which all versions of the adventure for Conrad are directed, results in the radical transformation in the intent of writing. It is no longer one form of the adventure, an act by which man could assure his positive existence. For the anonymous narrator, writing performs precisely the opposite function. It becomes a way of destroying any idea of an act which can confer such an identity by destroying all belief in a reality toward which this act can be directed.

Thus for the narrator to place Marlow's positive, creative journey within the context of a negating darkness is for him to accept the insubstantiality of the self. It is to accept the fact that man can never transcend the conditional existence of his original, orphaned state, and it is this acceptance of his own insubstantiality which is the source of the narra...

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...ces on the Thames.(19)

(16) ã The World's Classics Joseph Conrad. Youth, Heart of Darkness, The End of the Tether. Edited with an introduction by robert Kimbrough. Introduction, Notes, Blossary ã Robert Kimbrough-1984 Pages: 10 and 11.

(17) ã The Metaphysics of Darkness . Royal Roussel. A study in the unity and development of Conrad's Fiction.

1971- The John's Hopkins Press by Baltimore and London Pages: 77, 78 and 79.

(18) ã The World's Classics Joseph Conrad. Youth, Heart of Darkness, The End of the Tether

Edited with an introduction by robert Kimbrough. Introuduction, Notes, Glossary ã Robert Kimbrough- 1984

Pages: 14, 15 and 23.

(19) ã Heart of Darkness with the Congo Diary Introduction and Notes ãRobert Hampson, 1995

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England. Pages: 26 and 27.
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