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Essay about Point of View and Theme in Heart of Darkness

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Point of View and Theme in Heart of Darkness

In Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness the story of Marlow, an Englishman travelling physically up an unnamed river in Africa and psychologically into the human possibility, is related to the reader through several narrational voices. The primary first-person narrator is an Englishman aboard the yawl, the 'Nellie', who relates the story as it is told to him by Marlow. Within Marlow's narrative are several instances when Marlow relies upon others, such as the Russian, the brickmaker and the Manager at the central station, for information. Therefore, through complicated narrational structure resulting from the polyphonous account, Conrad can already represent to the reader the theme
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This is evident when the first narrator finally sees London as not "the biggest and greatest town on earth" but a "monstruous town ... marked ominously on the sky, a broading gloom in sunshine..."

This change in attitude is due to Marlow's account of the atrocities he witnesses in the 'heart of darkness', such as the 'Grove of Death' and the corruption and inefficiency of the company, which represents itself as civilising and educating, whilst its rapacious and fetishistic desire for ivory milks the land of its livelyhood and enslaves its people.

Marlow uses his language to represent his beliefs, and thus demonstrate this 'theme' to the reader. Conrad,through Marlow, cleverly problematises the use of 'white', a traditional symbol of purity and enlightenment, by describing the European city, in which the headquarters of the company is located, as a 'whited sepulchre', conjuring forth images of corruption and deceit hiding behind a moral facade. However, significantly, although he inverts this traditional symbolism, Conrad does not problematise the notion of black as evil and corrupt.

Marlow, then continues to represent the Africans and Africa in terms of 'blackness' as 'black limbs', 'black bodies', a 'black and incomprehensible frenzy', so that by absentingly unconsciously any re-evaluation of the Africans or Africa as 'evil', 'dark' and 'other', Marow's
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