Examine the Significance of Blank Spaces in Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'?

2902 WordsApr 26, 200512 Pages
"True, by this time it was not a blank space any more … it had become a place of darkness." (Heart of Darkness) Examine the significance of ‘blank spaces' in THREE novels of the 19th and/or early 20th centuries. The ellipsis in the titular quote refers to an important omission: "it [the blank space] had got filled since my boyhood with rivers and lakes and names. It had ceased to be a blank space of delightful mystery – a white patch for a boy to dream gloriously over."1 Conrad's Marlow highlights the major significance of the ‘blank space' at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries here - that of ignorance, but a challenging ignorance; a temptation to the empirical enthusiasts of the Victorian era and beyond. In this essay, the…show more content…
And I resolved that should I see indications which appeared to confirm my impression that I had indeed come upon the missing tribes, I would certainly convert them.18 At the end of the book, however, his motives for returning have changed somewhat: I have no doubt…that we could fill our vessel with emigrants in three or four journeys…We should then proceed to Greenland, and dispose of our engagement with the Erewhonians to the sugar-growers of that settlement, who are in great want of labour…19 In the same way, by Lord John's discovery of diamonds in the prehistoric plateau of The Lost World20, it is hard to see how any subsequent expedition could be anything but exploitative. This theme of exploitation and using blank spaces and their un-Westernised inhabitants for mercenary, territorial gain is one that also permeates throughout Heart of Darkness; ivory trading becomes the foundation on which the supposed exploration and civilising of the Africans is based: The word "ivory" rang in the air, was whispered, was sighed. You would think they were praying to it.21 The fact that many regions of Africa and South America were left unexplored and unmarked by Western civilisation in the mid-1800s has a great connection to the ferocity and imperviousness of the natural
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