Search for Identity

Search for Identity

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They years from 1912 to 1930 were the Heroic Age of the Modern Novel, the age of Conrad, Joyce, Woolf, Forster, Lawrence. This period brought important changes and was marked by important events that influenced man, his society and the whole humanity. One can trace many influences in the changes in attitude and technique in the fiction of this period. The influence of psychology and anthropology made the authors explore the depths of human nature and existence.

Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" elaborates the above mentioned issue, using the two visual aspects of dark and light and the method of indirection, Conrad takes the reader on an unforgettable journey with the main character Marlow through the jungles of Africa. Marlow wants to discover the darkness in the heart of Mr. Kurtz which is the main voice that leads him all the way through. During the journey Marlow becomes aware of the darkness in himself and in the others. He is perfectly aware of the fact that Kurtz is not the only evil man on Earth. By Marlowe's initiation in the darkness he becomes the agent of light and direction. The whole story of traveling through the wild nature and facing the colonial injustice actually mirrors Marlow's search for identity. Meeting Kurtz, Marlow is apparently reaching the utmost point of his search. Although Kurtz is considered a wicked man, at the end Marlow doesn't reveal the real facts about him only he became fully aware of his similar identity and because he discovered the depth of human nature.

James Joyce is another author who deals with the same theme. "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" is an autobiographical novel where the characters development is presented by a completely different technique and enables the reader to penetrate into the character's sub-consciousness and to become aware of all these thoughts, feelings and associations which mark the character's development in time. From the very beginning we can see that Stephen is different from other children. He is a sensitive introvert person, with life of his own distancing from the other children. The most important method that Joyce uses is the so-called epiphany or sudden spiritual revelation experienced at the moment of great crisis. With the first epiphany the protagonist Stephen realizes that he is not meant to serve God and live in a community. He's an individual who can express himself only by creating beauties, he is meant to be an artist.

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The second and the third epiphany present the climax of the search for his own identity. He becomes aware of the mythical implication of his name - Dedalus. Thus his name becomes prophecy to him. With his works is to fly to the sky. To fly and to be free. Eventually, with the third epiphany when he experienced the beauty of a girl and a new wild life begin to fill his veins. He becomes of the wild life and life of the blood. He finds beauty in the ordinary life and enjoys it. "To live, to err, to recreate life out of life."

Using different techniques, both Joyce and Conrad managed to reveal the "inner self" of the character to present what is going on in their mind. Thus, they established a relationship with the reader and made him think about the position of man in a world full of uncertainties.

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