Heart of darkness

Pages: 22 (5458 mots) Publié le: 14 février 2011
A discussion of the portrayal of colonialism in Heart of Darkness and in ‘The White Man’s Burden’.

Page

Introduction ……………………………………………………………. 2

Heart of Darkness ……………………………………………………… 2

- Background and historical context …………………………….. 2

- Literary devices………………………………………………... 4

- Representation of colonialism …………………………………. 7

‘The White Man’s Burden’ …………………………………………… 10

- Historical context and purpose ………………………………... 10

- External structure ……………………………………………… 11

- Internal structure and colonialism …………………………….. 13

Linguistic features which are different from modern English ………… 15

Conclusion …………………………………………………………….. 17

Bibliography……………………………………………………………18

Introduction

The topic of this paper is colonialism as it is portrayed in two classic texts, both dating back to the end of the 19th century: the novella Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and Ruyard Kipling’s famous poem ‘The White Man’s Burden’. Common to the two texts is the colonial timeframe and context in which they are created and also the fact that they do notbelong to colonial literature in the normal definition of this term, i. e. written by colonial authors.
My study will be divided into two main parts, one concerning Heart of Darkness and one about the poem. For either of the two texts, I will establish a connection to the outer world of their time, related to events in the authors’ lives and to history on a larger scale.
Then I will proceed toan analysis of the texts, presenting first the literary method and devices that are at work, and secondly, analysing the contents with a focus on colonialism though, naturally, the division of the two aspects of external and internal structures may be artificial and difficult to maintain.
In a third, shorter part of this paper I will fulfil the second part of my assignment which is to findand comment on examples of ways in which modern English is different from the English used in either of the two texts.
Main findings will be summed up in the conclusion.

Heart of Darkness

Background and historical context

Heart of Darkness was written in 1899 by the Polish-born Joseph Conrad. It is originated from the author’s own experience in the Congo in 1890, i.e. nineyears before the edition of the novella. As can be read in the extracts from Conrad’s autobiography, A Personal Record and from ‘Selected Letters En Route to the Congo’, both published in
Conrad under the title, ‘Conrad in Congo’, there are several similarities between the author’s journey to the Congo and the tale of the narrator who is called Marlow. Thus, just like Joseph Conrad, Marlow travels tothe Congo, full of expectations, to fulfil a dream of his childhood. Also many outward circumstances about the enterprise of the author and that of Marlow are similar, for instance:
- They are both seamen, engaged by a Belgian ivory-trading company.

- They are of English nationality although Conrad originates from Poland.

- Their projects are brought about through anintervention of an influential aunt.

- Their predecessors have died in Africa under strange circumstances.

- They fall terribly ill during the journey, a fate which, I suppose, they must have shared with many other Europeans going to Africa at that time.

- They both become isolated and unpopular among the other persons on the boat.

- They are chocked and disappointed by theirexperience in the Congo and about the colonial project. According to Zdzislaw Nadjer (Conrad, p. 250), Joseph Conrad went to the Congo ‘with ideas about a “civilizing mission”’ and returned seriously ill and disillusioned.

Altogether, we might get the impression that Marlow is Conrad’s alter ego, but still, in spite of these resemblances, Conrad is not Marlow, and...
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