Journey Motif in Heart of Darkness and Jasmine
In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Bharati Mukherjee's Jasmine, the physical journey represents the setting for the psychological journey that both main characters undergo. Each stage of the journey is correlated to an emotional insight, and the implications are great enough to incur a change in the protagonists' lives. Through the discovery of distant lands and foreign ideas, Marlow and Jasmine are prompted to look internally to find the answers to their questions. Their struggles are personal, and they are driven by different guiding forces, yet both experience a greater sense of self-awareness by the end of their journey.
Initially, Marlow and Jasmine embark on physical journeys involving movement over water. Marlow's fascination with the Congo River drives him to set out in search of the unknown, to fulfill his longing to explore the "blank spaces" of the map (Conrad 5). Marlow first crosses the English Channel to Brussels, a city that elicits an image of a "whited sepulcher" (7), which serves as an omen of the events that are about to unfold. The city, and the operation of the trading company, appear on the surface to be benevolent, but hidden at the very core are darkness and corruption. Jasmine's journey begins under quite different circumstances. She also crosses the ocean in search of a new and mysterious land, but for a very unique reason. Leaving Jyoti behind, Jasmine travels a long and indirect route to Florida where she intends to throw herself onto a funeral pyre in the custom of a traditional Indian widow.
The further from home Marlow and Jasmine travel, the more alienated they feel from the world and the people around them. Viewing the coastline of Africa for the first time, Marlow describes it as an enigma, and relates his experience to "a weary pilgrimage amongst hints for nightmares" (11). Once inland, his physical journey upriver brings forth a greater understanding, both of the environment and his perception of it. He is inspired to reexamine the European notion of colonialism and the African people that it is affecting. For Jasmine, her westward journey becomes the catalyst for many new transformations. Correspondingly, she leaves behind more and more of her Indian culture. After surviving her experience with Half-Face, Jasmine comes under the protection of Lillian Gordon. It is Lillian's kindness and generosity that encourage Jasmine to carry on toward her dream of "Vijh and Wife" (Mukherjee 81), to search for the life that she and her husband had envisioned. Lillian reinforces what Prakash and Masterji had already discovered - that Jasmine is destined for greater things. Spiritually renewed by the support of her friend and the memory of her husband, she resumes her journey to seek a new life in New York.
Marlow is also transformed as he travels into the heart of the jungle. As he follows the river upstream in search of Kurtz, he feels...