Assess The Importance Of Setting In Heart Of Darkness

2387 words - 10 pages

The setting is the basis of every story or novel, the basis of every prose work. Heart of Darkness is by no means an exception. Joseph Conrad's nouvelle or rather said mysterious work is not being easily understood let alone assessed. But each reader of Heart of Darkness should try to solve the mystery the author has opened.The setting reveals itself to be a mystery within the mystery. What is really the setting of Conrad's nouvelle? And is it at all important to the work as a whole? Is it the usual setting of an adventure story that was popular at the time, is it a place of darkness, the heart of it, or just the jungle in the Congo region? The setting may be all of the above and it looks like composed of several different ones colouring the mysteriousness of the nouvelle, some contrasting the others.Heart of Darkness begins in a voice that is not belonging to the protagonist. This later appears to be the auditor of the protagonist's(Marlow's) story, so for short he may be called the Auditor. His introduction reveals that the setting is a yawl, called Nellie, swinging on the surface of the Thames awaiting for the turn of the tide so she can sail off. The beginning of the setting reminds the Auditor of England's naval glory, he recalls the great knights - known and unknown - of the sea while the banks of the Thames remind Marlow that they have also been "one of the dark places of the earth". And exactly the word "dark" is the one that defines the setting throughout the whole of the nouvelle, varying only in shades. This becomes crystal clear from the moment Marlow begins to speak and he speaks through the whole of the nouvelle except the few introductory paragraphs. Going further to describe the setting Marlow begins his story about his journey in the Congo region, the heart of darkness. The protagonist explains that as a boy he looked at the blank spaces on the maps and dreamed of exploring them, but the Congo region was no blank space anymore, ironically according to Marlow it has become a place of darkness. He is fascinated by the river in the heart of darkness, for him it resembles a snake, symbol of evil; while the river Thames described earlier is calm and serene contrasting the setting in the Congo river. Both rivers may be symbol of the tamed and untamed. London is tamed by civil and moral rules, that's why it's calm while the untamed Africa is cruel but free. Marlow sees danger even before his journey has begun but it doesn't stop him from going to the other setting, the office of the Company. The following description is the gate towards darkness and death, the gate of Hell. The setting stays in Marlow's mind and later on in his journey he remembers the two women dressed in black, knitting black wool and holding a black cat; guardian angels to the "gate of Darkness". Conrad reveals that not many of those who have been introduced to the Company by the younger woman had the chance to return and look at her again, as if by giving them a...

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