A Comparison of Heart of Darkness and The Secret Agent
This essay consists of two separate parts but the intention is that both these parts will prove to be relevant from the point of view of what this essay sets out to study. The first part will present Joseph Conrad's life and some of his works and the latter part will consist of a comparison of two of Conrad's works, Heart of Darkness and The Secret Agent. In this essay I will begin from two assumptions, namely, that both the works mentioned above include clearly identifiable similarities in their narration, theme and method, and, that Conrad's own experiences and views have had great effect on both works.
The method of this essay is firstly to discuss Conrad's life and then to try to find out what kind of similarities and differences Heart of Darkness and The Secret Agent contain and also to try to discover how Conrad's own experiences relate to these works ( and his other works in general). I will also try to relate Conrad's works to some other writers' styles whenever I am capable of doing so despite of my poor knowledge of Conrad's contemporaries and despite of the fact that I was unable to get hold of such works as Conrad and His Contemporaries which surely would have been useful. My sources for carrying out this task are Conrad himself, his critics and my own opinions/interpretations of the two works by Conrad.
In dealing with the life of Joseph Conrad I will focus on the period before he settled in England and started his actual writing career and so I will not present his life after his trip to the Congo and nor will I deal with how it affected him afterwards. I take this approach simply because in my opinion this period was fundamentally more important for his writing, at least from the point of view of this essay.
Joseph Conrad was born on December 3, 1857 near Berdichev, in the Russian-ruled Poland. He was Christened Jozef Teodor Korzeniovski but changed his name later because he "could not bear to hear people mispronouncing his name all the time". He was the first and only son of Apollo and Evelina Nalecz Korzeniowski. His father was an aristocrat, a land-owner who had two great passions which Joseph inherited: a love for his country and a love for writing letters ( Warner, 1950: 8).
Apollo's involvement with the Polish National Committee, which fought for the independence of Poland, lead to his arrest in October 21, 1861 and finally into exile in Vologda, in northern Russia where Conrad and his mother followed in 1862. Evelina died in exile in 1865 in the age of thirty-two.
Apollo was becoming progressively ill and in December 1867 he was permitted to return to Poland. In the meantime the young Conrad had been living with his maternal uncle, Tadeusz Bobrovski, since 1866 at Nowofastow in the Polish Ukraine. Finally Conrad rejoined his father and they settled in Cracow in 1869. After...