Narrative Style in Conrad's Heart of Darkness

1660 WordsMar 27, 20137 Pages
Narrative Style in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness The Heart of Darkness employs, broadly, a three framed narrative style. Conrad, the author, places an unnamed narrator aboard the Nellie with Marlow, who is the third narrator/frame. The unnamed narrator functions as both a teller of Marlow’s tale to us and a listener to Marlow. The significance of these frames can be analysed by looking at three effects which this arrangement produces. The usage of Marlow as narrator instead of Conrad himself became important due to Conrad’s anxiety to adopt an English point of view which had been denied to him largely. His self-consciousness as a Polish émigré and therefore an outsider reflected in his attempt at anglicising his name. Also well-known was his…show more content…
5 That the frame narrator is also a “would-be-listener” makes it easy for the reader to step into his shoes and for Conrad to thenceforth shape and manipulate the reader’s responses as and when Marlow retaliates or explains his point of view to him (and in effect, to us). Marlow’s attempt at recreating his subjective past is met with unease on the part of the narrator and like a litmus paper he brings out the intellectual and emotional effect the author is seeking. When the effect has been so affirmed, the author proceeds to manipulate it. When, for example, we see Marlow’s desperation for having missed the chance to speak to Kurtz as absurd, Conrad makes the listeners sigh with the same reaction. Marlow reacts heatedly- “Why do you react in this beastly way, somebody? Absurd? … This is the worst of trying to tell… Here you all are, each moored with two good addresses, like a hulk with two anchors, a butcher round one corner, a policeman round another.” Pp 53 This chastisement by Conrad gets displaced from Marlow’s companions to the reader. Marlow is trying to prevent us from judging Kurtz and by doing so highlights his importance in the tale’s critical discourse. Finally, another significance of the narrative within narrative framework is that the double
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