heart of darkness

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Heart of Darkness For most of his young life, Joseph Conrad has had a burning desire to be a seaman; and in 1874, when he is just sixteen years of age, his dream becomes a reality. In addition, he worked his way up through the ranks and piloted a merchant ship up the mighty Congo River in central Africa. Later, it is the memory of this voyage that provides him with the first hand details for writing his most famous novel HEART OF DARKNESS, and these memories spring to life as Marlow , the main character, replaces Conrad in the story. A feeling of darkness is everywhere and it causes the reader to feel surrounded by it. This motif causes the reader to see the darkness in his surroundings, to experience the dark deeds of man, and to recognize the darkness of man's mind. HEART OF DARKNESS presents a story within a story, and at the beginning , we find Marlow, along with three friends, on board a small ship which is anchored near the mouth of the Thames River in London. When the unnamed narrator, uses words like gloom, black, and brooding repeatedly, it becomes evident that darkness is unfolding as a motif. The following example first gets the reader's attention: "The air was dark above Gravesend, and farther back seemed condensed into a mournful gloom, brooding motionless over the biggest, and the greatest , town on earth." While they wait for the tide to turn, the men become lost in their own thoughts until Marlow seizes the opportunity to tell his friends about his life as a seaman. He tells them of his fascination with Africa and how he longs to explore it. When he describes the Congo as " an immense snake uncoiled with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land" a sense of dark mystery is felt by the reader, and as he continues , all kinds of negative information await him. He is next met with a tale of a man hanging himself because of the terrible heat. Then he experiences the painful stabbing of flies and the groans and misery of the sick and dying. Fifteen days later , he describes his arrival at Central Station as hobbling in to an area of back water bordered by smelly mud.

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