"How Have The Composers Of These Texts Used The River Motif In Different Ways To Show How Rivers Can Influence The Imagination Or Govern The Lives Of People? Consider Issues Of Culture And Context."

1734 words - 7 pages

Texts discussed: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, A River Sutra by Gita Mehta and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.A 'river' in everyday usage is seen as little more than a flow of water. The composers of my chosen texts, however, have taken the motif of rivers in a different perspective, and have used this motif in their works to show how rivers can influence the imagination or govern the lives of the people around them. The different ways this motif has been used reflects the composers' individual perspective on the rivers, derived from the influence of his or her culture, the literary techniques used and the context in which they were written.The texts I have chosen are Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, A River Sutra by Gita Mehta and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. In all three texts, the featured rivers are predominant in the structure and storyline. The rivers are depicted as having a significant influence on the people around them. In the opening paragraphs of Heart of Darkness, we are introduced to the Thames River, the first river featured in this text, which is resting, as Conrad depicts, 'at the decline of day after ages of good service done to the race that peopled its banks'. Conrad goes on to describe the river as 'venerable', suggesting his respect and gratitude towards the river and its means of transport and trade. The river providing a 'service' reinforces the idea of it influencing and governing the lives of the people around it. However, the actual story takes place on the River Congo, the very antithesis of the Thames. The river motif is important as it presents the degradation of culture, as we are taken deeper into the heart of Africa and away from civilisation to a lack, or loss, of civilisation. This shows how the river has governed the lives of the people involved.A River Sutra is a series of short stories that are strung together by the text's featured river, the Narmada. We as readers are plunged into the depths of Central India, through which this greatly significant river runs. The banks of the river are praised as a place of rest, solace and spiritual retreat, and its water provides a source of life for the people around it. However, the river is also believed to have healing qualities, as we are told that 'depressives and other unfortunates run to her banks'. The Narmada River is compared with other rivers in the novel, which increases its significance. 'Bathing in the waters of the Jamuna,' we are told, 'purifies a man in seven days, in the waters of the Ganges in one, but the Narmada purifies with a single sight of her waters'. Therefore, the river is depicted as having an almost religious significance and influence on the people around it, who depend on its banks for spiritual comfort as well as survival.The Mississippi River, featured in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is also seen as predominant in the text; holding much significance and influence over the people...

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