Dual Narrators in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
A detailed discussion of Conrad’s use of two first person narrators with respect to the major themes of `Heart of Darkness`
This paper outlines and discusses how the use of an anonymous frame narrator and the primary narrator Marlowe encourage the reader to see the major concerns of the novella. These include the hypocritical nature of western imperialism on the late 19th century, the transitory nature of western civilization and the nature of evil.
`In Joseph Conrad’s impressionistic novella Heart of Darkness the unusual use of dual narrators is very important in positioning the reader to understand the themes of the novella. Three of the main themes that are constantly referred to in Heart of Darkness are the hypocritical nature of western imperialism, the transitory nature of western civilization and the nature of evil. The dual narrator system has a primary narrator, Marlow, who is telling the story to three people, all somehow involved in the business of imperialism, on-board a yawl called the Nellie. It also has a frame narrator, an anonymous person with some connection to imperialism who is relating the events that occurred on the Nellie to the reader. Both of these narrators are used by Conrad to position the reader to see the novella’s themes. Marlow is used fairly directly and his biased point of view and definite moral sense of right and wrong are used to directly position the reader’s perspective on the three major themes mentioned earlier. The frame narrator specifically positions the reader in terms of the three themes mentioned earlier. He is also used indirectly by Conrad to position the reader in terms of the themes of the novella, he gives the reader a short background of Marlow and his stories and also encourages the reader to believe that Marlow is a very perceptive and trustworthy character, therefore, his story, and so the ideas that surround it, are important and worth thinking about.`
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