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Heart of Darkness Critique CritiquePeriod 2

One said once, of Heart of Darkness, that ?this amazing tale that was not so much told as suggested to me in desolate exclamations, completed in shrugs, in interrupted phrases, in hints ending in deep sighs.? This effect was created by the illusions Conrad made through use of diction, style, and narrative structure. A novel critique has a quite complicated task in his analysis of a novel. He is to shed light into the dark corners of the work where the tools used to build the novel are to be found. The Heart of Darkness is an extremely good example of a well-built novel. A well-built novel is only possible with good tools. The articles of critique, numbers 4, 10, 6, 7, 9, and 11, are effective models of critiques, which illuminate the deepest crevices of a novel; in order to discover the tools so eloquently used, such as diction, style, and narrative structure.

Critique #4, written by Walter J. Ong on ?The Ending of The Heart of Darkness? was effective in highlighting some of Conrad?s inventions through diction. For instance, he speaks of how Conrad uses the word ?voice? so frequently throughout the novel. He states that, ?Heart of Darkness consists of a web of voices, of cries and responses, often explicitly called to the reader?s attention to establish multi-layered involvement and mystery.? This statement offers a great deal of truth. His reference to Kurtz as ?the voice? provides a great deal of mystery. The whole concept of voice is extremely important in this novel. Voice describes narration, which is a prominent tool occupied throughout the story, as narration shifts and becomes altered. In this critique, the author provides many quotes which both describe how effective ?voice? can be in adding to the mystery of the story, and symbolically represent narration, or further: the soul. This essay also points out the irony of Kurtz?s last words; especially in reference to what ?the Intended? had predicted them to be.

Critique #10 is a good source of more information about the narration and narrative structure of Heart of Darkness, which is an extremely large element thereof. It accurately assumes that ?language as a system of communication and transmission, as the medium of official biographies and readable reports, has no place for the unspeakable; it is used rather to cover up the unnamable, to reweave the seamless web of signification.? He also shows the complications of the narration as he explains that the ?substitutability of names? marks the notable alterability of stories?. Also by stating that Marlow ?is not simply a teller of tales, but a reteller? he shows the unique ?narrative plot? created by Conrad. With a quote he also effectively describes the rare construction of the story. He states that ?the structure of ?framed narration? used in Heart of Darkness will not in this instance give a neat pattern of nested boxes, bracketed core structures, nuts within shells.? The author of this critique urges the reader ?to read Heart of Darkness as a narration even more than as a narrative or a story.? He mostly likely suggests this because his belief that ?meaning must reside in the relation between the tale?s telling and its listening, in its reception, its transaction??

Critique # 9 is also written to illuminate the way Conrad uses narrative structure in the formation of his story. He underlines the oddity of ?the way up [in the story] is the way back?, and how the narrative structure is ?a kind of reverse phylogeny?. This form of narrative is rare. The critique moves on to say that the ?story line of the journey comes to be doubled by the more specifically goal oriented plot line of the inquest?. ? So it is that Marlow?s inquest, in the manner of the detective?s, becomes the retracing of the track of a precursor.? The author of this critique also precisely points out how, ?In Marlow?s narrative, we witness the formation of motivation in the middle of the journey.? This insight to structure of narration is quite helpful to the reader.

Critique #6 is effective in demonstrating how Conrad effectively used style to accomplish his task. As to the style of the story he explains that ?the intent is not to subject the reader to multiple strains and ambiguities, but rather to throw over him a brooding gloom?. Unlike most novels, the movement is not of action and consequence, but rather ?the tracing of a large grand circle of awareness?. This style and goal is unique to Heart of Darkness. The writer of this critique also points out the demoralization of people here as he provides sentences where the second narrator refers to gross or monumental things in a passive, casual tone. I believe the author of this critique was correct in believing that ?Heart of Darkness? remains one of the great dark meditations in literature, and one of the purest expressions of a melancholy temperament.?

Critique #7 would be a good source of information to one who was interested in discovering more about the use of language in this novel. One of the most fascinating parts of Heart of Darkness was the way ?language? fails in attempting to discover the meaning of Kurtz and of the experience?. The way Marlow refers to Kurtz in such an ethereal matter helps support this idea. The author of this critique puts his own bid as to the meaning of ?the horror?, which was wallowed out as Kurtz drew in his last breath. He says that he thinks it ?can have but one meaning: all hearts are in darkness; the morality and meaning with which man surrounds himself and his experience is unreal?. Anyhow, the point of breaching this part of the story is to show how sometimes Conrad employs incomprehensible, mysterious, and substitutable diction.

Lastly, in Critique #11, light is once more being shed on the narrative structure and narration of the novel. It begins by suggesting that ?the exchange between Marlow and the would-be listener/frame narrator in the tale?s opening provides the key for a reading of different linguistic levels sketched by the narrative frame. The first narrator has two main functions: to present setting, and to be the voice of ?youth?. Marlow, the main narrator is the ?spirit of the past? who relates most of the story. Lastly, the voice of nature, Kurtz is also a presenter of this story. The author of this critique also point out that in the presentation of Marlow, the reader should be warned against ?concentrating on Marlow?s account of events when he is the protagonist, but rather in the distortions which the re-creation of his subjective experience produces on the narrative.

Through careful analysis of the story, some of these articles were effectively able to illuminate Conrad?s brilliant story. Some through description of narration, some through the depiction of diction, and some through presentation style, but all through careful reading, and relation of personal experiences, helped make this novel even more alive, and the journey into the heart of darkness becomes even more chilling.


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