Unanswered Questions in Heart of Darkness

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Often, an author of a work of literature will raise questions in one’s mind, but will not answer it to ensure contemplation of the idea presented before the reader. In his novel, Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad utilizes characterization, narration, and heavy imagery to effectively raise questions in the reader’s mind as the book continues in its tedious, yet poetic journey on the Congo. Conrad uses a lot of action to describe his characters because there isn’t much physical description or speech. Since Marlow is the protagonist, he is given more of an in-depth look. All the others, including Kurtz, show a great space between their words and their actions. Often their actions are far more indicative of their true character than their speech. He effectively uses characterization to bring up questions well worth contemplation, such as “Why are there only two characters with names?” No one has a name except for Marlow and Kurtz. Everyone just has a profession: the accountant, the harlequin, and the manager. Conrad does not explain why all but two characters are nameless. Being nameless creates a lack of emotion and sympathy from the reader; giving a more distant look on how mankind behaves when utterly alone in a place they do not understand or comprehend. It illustrates the dehumanization of the men in the wilderness of the Congo. In the beginning we are given an outside look at Marlow as he introduces us to him and the story that he will tell. A question may draw the reader to think, “What is the point of the narrator in the first place?” This has much to do with the setting so Marlow’s story is stopped and the reader is able to hear commentary on the Thames River, thereby connecting the parallel between the Thames and the Congo, and later, the parallel between Marlow and Kurtz. The narrator is mostly to see more commentary and connections. Though most questions are not answered, Conrad has given the reader a small break by actually...