The novella Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is proof that a novel does not have to be long to have literary merit. Heart of Darkness is quite short, yet intriguing, due to the content of the novel. Much like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Heart of Darkness overwhelms the reader by the power of the story so that one will never feel quite satisfied with their attempts to intellectualize the experience (Adelman 8).
Heart of Darkness was written during the time of British imperialism and extreme exploitation of Africans in the Congo. The British were exploiting the Africans in an effort to extract ivory from the primitive jungle. Throughout the novel, Conrad expresses his dislike with the 'civilized' white people exploiting the 'savage' black Africans. Conrad also uses several literary devices in his writing to portray and express several messages. The writing style, techniques, structure and themes in Heart of Darkness all combine to create one of the most renowned, respected and mysterious novels of all time. Conrad wrote an ultimate enigma for readers to interpret and critically analyze for years to come.
Conrad's excellence in style is very controversial; some believe that he is "a literary genius" (Adelman 16), while others "criticize him for being limited, pretentious and vague" ((Adelman 16). Throughout the novel, Conrad uses ample amounts of descriptive language, vivid imagery, and powerful symbolism. The vague part is that he leaves it up to the reader to interpret his mysterious and 'unspeakable' enigmas. Conrad's descriptive language in Heart of Darkness is present from the beginning to the end. With the opening paragraphs d...
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...xperience" (Adelman 8). Overall, readers must interpret for themselves which meanings Conrad intended or if he intended all the meanings. This deep novel by Joseph Conrad is not easy to read but is valuable knowledge once it is read.
Adelman, Gary. Heart of Darkness: Search for the Unconscious. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987.
Conrad, Joseph. The Heart of Darkness. Ed. Cedric Watts. London: Everyman, 1995.
Fothergill, Anthony. Open Guides to Literature: Heart of Darkness. Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1989.
Glassman, Peter J. Language and Being: Joseph Conrad and the Literature of the Personality. New York and London: Columbia: University Press, 1976.
Tindall, W.Y. "The Duty of Marlow." In Conrad's Heart of Darkness and the Critics. Ed. Bruce Harkness. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company Inc., 1968.
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