Modernist Style in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkne

ss Heart Darkness essaysModernist’s Experiments in Heart of Darkness

In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, a chaotic form of writing takes place which is characteristic of the Modernist’s experiments in their style of literature of stream-of-consciousness. Written before WWI took place, he spoke of a different type of chaos and uncertainty present in the world at this time; the issue of slavery.

Heart of Darkness describes a voyage to Africa, common for the British still, despite the horrific treatment which was apparent of colonization. The chaotic, stream-of-consciousness style Conrad took on helped to display the confusion, and made the reader have to interpret for themselves what they thought the writer meant. Conrad experiments with this style, leaving some sentences without ending: “not a sentimental pretense but an idea;something you can set upand offer a sacrifice to.” (Conrad, Longman p. 2195), a very choppy form of literature and causes the reader to fill in the holes and interpret themselves, alone. Conrad skips about from talking of the “two women knitted black wool feverishly” at the gate of the city (of hell), to his aunt which he feels women are “out of touch with truth,” to how the British are as “weak-eyed devil(s) of a rapacious and pitiless folly” (Conrad, Longman pp. 2198, 2199, ; 2202). Conrad’s mind moves about as ours do along a large duration of literary monologue to convey to the reader the author’s ideas, as interpreted by the reader.

Conrad’s narrative frame also continues his experimentation with literary form in Modernist style. Two separate monologues are present throughout Heart of Darkness. The first part starts out with an unnamed narrator aboard the ship Nelly, describing to himself, as well as to the reader, those aboard the ship, particularly Marlow. At first, the narrator is not known for sure to be a character aboard the ship until a few paragraphs later identify him as a person observing the others-“Between us there was, as I have already said,” (Conrad, Longman p. 2193). Marlow gradually takes over the narration, beginning “‘And this also,’ said Marlow suddenly” (Conrad, Longman p. 2194) is the first breaking point in Conrad’s Modernist narrative experiment. By page 2195, Conrad has Marlow take over the entire monologue narrative, as the unnamed narrator jumps time after time, but is rarely thought of for the majority of Heart of Darkness.

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