Realism in Heart of Darkness

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Course| COML1053: CTC: Fictions & Visual Narrati| Course School/Level| HU/UG| Coursework| Essay Two| Assessment Weight| 45.00%|
Tutor| ED Jones| Submission Deadline| 22/02/2013|

3000 words. Questions available on the course's Moodle page.|

Coursework is receipted on the understanding that it is the student's own work and that it has not, in whole or part, been presented elsewhere for assessment. Where material has been used from other sources it has been properly acknowledged in accordance with the University's Regulations regarding Cheating and Plagiarism.|

000645083       Karna Solanki
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2. ‘Those who read me know my conviction that the world, the temporal world, rests on a few very simple ideas; so simple that they must be as old as the hills. It rests notably, among others, on the idea of Fidelity’ (Joseph Conrad). How is ‘realism’ problematized by any one of the texts in this block? You must make reference to at least one definition of literary terms (for instance, Baldick’s definition in the course reader.)

Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart Of Darkness’ bases itself around the theme of the hypocrisy of Imperialism and thus how this relates around the story of the main character, Charlie Marlow (Marlow). Marlow himself is thrust into a world that turns his previous beliefs of what is considered ‘civilised’ on its head. Is this itself a problem of realism in the novel? Quite possibly, the novel takes us far away from the drab European cities Marlow would usually situate himself in and transports us to the Congo and its surrounding areas. Realism is described as: ‘A mode of writing that gives the impression of recording or ‘reflecting’ faithfully an actual way of life. […] [A]s a dominant literary trend it is associated chiefly with the 19th-century novel of middle- or lower-class life, in which the problems of ordinary people in unremarkable circumstances are rendered with close attention to the details of social setting and to the complexities of social life. ‘ (Chris Baldick, Oxford Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms (Oxford: OUP, 2001)) It provides us with a real insight into what the ideals of Imperialism contradict and therefore how this affects Marlow. The seemingly opposite character of Marlow is presented as Kurtz, or rather ‘Mr. Kurtz’. Never given a first name purposely by Conrad, possibly to mock the status he demands amongst the native tribes people, eventually leading to one saying, ‘Mistah Kurtz, he dead’ when Kurtz eventually meets his end. Edward Garnett provides an interesting quote in his response to the novel that appears to mirror the deterioration of Kurtz himself; ‘the acutest analysis of the deterioration of the white man’s morale, when he is let loose from European restraint, and planted down as an ‘emissary of light’ armed to the teeth, to make trade profits out of the subject races’. This being that if Kurtz had remained in Europe, restrained by its religious and governed ideals he would not have ‘deteriorated’ to such a state, whereas he leaves and almost becomes a figurehead of a religion in himself (represented in part by the worship of Ivory). Conrad himself uses Marlow and his character to utilize his own thoughts and perceptions of the people in the Congo. Marlow can be seen as the personification of a voice of reason whereas Kurtz is one of destruction and evil, only out to gain recognition for himself as he collects as much ivory as the other traders put together. It’s therefore ironic that the natives eventually worship Kurtz as a God, this therefore also presents the reader with a twisted view of realism in the novel; how can a character labelled...
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