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Conrad’s Narrative Technique in The Heart of Darkness

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Conrad’s Narrative Technique in The Heart of Darkness

  • Jung’s collective unconscious
  • history of colonialism upon Africa
  • Life of Conrad
  • Some of the notions of Chinua Achebe’s “colonialist criticism”
  • In Renaissance king Henry iv paved way from Europe to Africa.
  • Then the Europeans slowly and gradually moved to Africa in the name of trade carrying the language and religion with the inner intention to colonize the Africans
  • With the assumed superiority of English language and English culture, the Europeans finally became able to colonize the native peoples
  • In the colonial mission the Europeans committed continent of circe (India) the mistakes and they blamed the colonized for the mistakes
  • In their mission the colonizers entered the non-western geographical location. But with the entrance they become explained. Later they claim that their humanist purpose to civilize the colonized countries is halted because of the “circe” like behaviour of the colonized countries

Conrad’s own life experience

  • Bornin Poland
  • Lost parents before his teenage
  • with the exile of his father he moved to Russia and finally to England.
  • Since his time of childhood conrad had deep desire for the sea.
  • When he become yound, set out for the journey towards Africa, with the help of his annt.
  • His Sickness in Africa nearly killed him.

Achebe’s notion

  • Europeans always dominate the Africans in the veil of protections. The Europeans say that “African is my brother but indeed my small brother”.
  • The Europeans follow the slogan of “All are equal but some are more equal”
  • The Europeans judged African language and African culture making the universal touchstone of European culture. It is the injustice upon the particularity and peculiarity of the native peoples.
Two narrator rivets
Unnamed narrator They are going somewhere sitting in the boat

The narrator found Accountant in outer station.

outer station mid station central station
Accountant there are manager and his uncle
  • Relation between colonizers and colonized
  • symbols
  • The novel as the story of journey within
  • Evils of colonialism in the novel
  • Buddhist and Christian allurion
  • Modernist novel
  • Kurtz falls as the symbolic of the European colonialism’s failure.


  • He is a European man born from the French father and English mother.
  • In the time of colonialism France and the England were the great colonial power
  • The fall of Kurtz is to fall of whole European colonialism.

Narrative Technique in the novel “The Heart of Darkness”

  • Frame Narrative :

The narrator provides background for Marlow to develop the story, when Marlow misses the at the story this narrator “intervening Marlow and adds frame to the story of Marlow

  • Symbolism

– Marlow’s lotus posture

– Kurt’s European intended.

  • Technique of central intelligence

– The shadow of Joseph Conrad is in central intelligence.

The technique of central intelligence means that almost all the story and incidents veer around the single character. In “heart of Darkness” the whole story is told from the perspective of the narrator, who opens background for Marlow and several times intervene the story of Marlow and reversal times intervene the story of Marlow which is incomplete for him. Thus the whole novel is formed through the perspective of the central intelligence.

  • Mythical and legendary references.

The experimental caliber (formation) of this novel is incomprehensible. There is the objective co-relation behind it. The complexity in the mission of colonialism is explored with the inclusion of the complex narrative structures. Because of the explanation of colonial agents like Kurtz and because of the conflict for there between and the colonial agents such as Marlow and any among Kurtz incoherence in teh mission of colonialism. This internal in coherency is rendering the mission of colonialism into the complex situation. To present this complex city the wire chooses the complex sentence structure Marlow is the symbol of Buddhism

  1. i) Marlow’s lotus posture. ii) Marlow’s love for peace

The character of Marlow on the one hand assumes the lotus posture in narrating the story while on the other hand despite . Kurtz’s treachery against him, Marlow still loves the character of Kurtz.

  • Kurtz is take the Christ figure for his devotion forward the same of Ceinopcan colonization
  • Christ had scarifies his life for the evils. Worldly beings and for the worldly sins. In the same ways Kurtz is also sacrificing his life for the sin of European colonialism.

Relationship between the colorizes and Colonized / comnial novel.

  • In terms of power – the colonizers are in the upper hand position and the colonized are in the dominated position. Africa is ruled by the cursope. The grand narrative of European colonialism where the Europeans controlled the non-European location with the help of frication, printing press and compass is presented indirectly where Marlow and Kurtz are presented as the colonial agents to capture the wild nature of African location.
  • The colonizers love the natural resources of the colonized countries but they hate and exploit the native people of the colonized countries.
  • Kurtz’s sending of the truckloads of ivory is an example of the colonial love for the natural resource of colonized countries. Likewise Kurtz’s exploitation of the Black African mistress and his enslavement of the native people in the name of protection are some of the examples of how the colonial mission attempts to exploit the native of the colonized location.
  • The entire history of colonialism shows that the westerner or the Europeans enter the Non-European geographical locations or neo-western geographical locations with the pretense of security trade or religion. But as soon as they enter the non-western geographical location they begin the mission of colonialism. Kurtz in “Head of Darkness” enters Africa with one motive but he immediately begins to exploit African culture and African location. The pilgrims in the novel outwardly seem to be religions and pious -kljq_, but when they get chance they start to collect ivory. This is the irony in the mission of colonialism,
  • Colonialism not only destroy the colonized, rather it also destroy the colonizes
  • Kurtz’s mission not only destroy African land property and natives rather Kurtz himself is destroyed
  • Colonizers commits fault but blame the colonized for those faults. Kurtz before entering Africa is presented the humble, moral, logical and a true human being. But with the entrance of Kurtz the character of Kurtz is presented as the decayed human being. This technique of this novel is to blame against the colonized location which is reducible for sowing the seeds of exploitation in the mind of colonizers.

Depiction of the females in “The Heart of Darkness”

1) Marlow’s aunt                                 Positive character

2) Kurtz’s women                                Negative character

3) Kurtz’s fiancee                                Positive character

4) Kurtz’s Black Mistress                    Negative character

  • Marlow’s aunt, kilting women, Kurtz’s intended and Kurtz’s Black Mistress are the significant female characters of the Novella.
  • Marlow’s aunt who helps Marlow to enter Africa and Kurtz’s intended who is morally faithful for Kurtz are the symbol of hight because of their positive qualities. But Kurtz’s Black mistress who is involving in the passionate affair being sensuously active with Kurtz and the active women anticipating Marlow’s dark journey are presented with the light whatever the case may be the females are the underdogs manipulated and used by males. They are only the tools in the hand of males to satisfy their vested purpose.

Two of the females, Marlow’s aunt and kilting women are related towards Marlow’s activities. Here the females are trying to guide Marlow’s future. But Kurtz’s intended and Black mistress are the tzols in the hand of Kurtz exploited and waiting to be exploited

Exploration of Evil in “The Heart of Darkness”

  • Greedy human nature in the mind to zers.
  • Kurtz’s passion in Black Mistress.
  • Kurtz’s lust for ivory
  • Kurtz’s enslavement of the natives.
  • Hollowness of European colonialism
  • They try to educate other but there is the lack of education in them (pitcher)
  • They try to exploit other but they themselves are exploited
  • Symbol of Darkness
  • The colonizers themselves are engaged in the power struggle (struggle between Kurtz and Marlow) struggle between the manages and Kurtz.

The novel as the story of Journey “within in”

  • Outer station – Conscious psyche
  • Inner station – Subconscious psyche
  • Central station – Unconscious

The novellas depiction of the journey of Marlow and Kurtz can be presented as the inner journey where the movement of the characters of Marlow and Kurtz from the outer station to the inner station and finally to the central station are symbolical of how the characters are moving in their psychic formation for the consciousness to the subconsciousness and finally to the unconsciousness. Marlow’s capability to return from the central station is symbolically his success from his unconscious psyche whereas Kurtz’s incapability to return from the central station is the example of his incapability to maintain the co-relation between formal and sensors drive

The protagonist, Marlow’s journey from the outer station to the inner station and finally to the central station is similar to his psychological journey from his conscious self, sub conscious self and ultimately to the cineonsious self. It means that Marlow is capable to move from his consciousness towards unconsciousness. Likewise Marlow finally becomes able to be returned from the central station of the Africa. The central station of Africa is symbolically the unconscious state of mind where Marlow’s capability to be returned from the darkness of Africa is his assertion of the successful character.

Karl Gustav Jung in his psychoanalytical theory claims that the successful human beings are capable to make their journey from consciousness to uncousciousness and vice-vessa. In this connection Marlow siltiy in the lotus posture in the yatch makes psychological journey where reaching towards the unconscious psyche he ultimately becomse able to be returned from the unconsciousness. But in the character of Kurtz we can not find the capacity of Marlow. Kurtz after his reaching towards Africa is incapable to e returned. He exploits the natives, he himself is  exploited and his situation of the dark forces engulfing -ldNg’_ his own life is the situation of a person who incapable of controlling his emotionality and unconsciousness , is sacrificing his own life. Before reaching Africa Kurtz is a man of sense. But he becomes the man of sensibility in the African locality where he losser his life. Here, Kurtz’s fall in “Heart of Darkness” can be related to the his fall of a human being who is incapable to control his unconscious psyche.

It is nature of human psychology that it is not an easy job to return from the unconsciousness. Once a person paves his way to the unconscious psyche then it will need a great sacrifice and psyche logical strength  to be removed out of unconscious and subconscious psyche. The determined human beings who are capable of controlling their unconsciousness through their conscious self, can be successful. Marlow’s journey towards Africa is an eg. of a rational human being’s action to the movement towards irrationality. But Marlow does not becomes infected from the irrationality of the African locality. But Marlow suffers from a little antidote which is his sickness causing his desquamation in the sound health. This is the true example of the psychology of the human beings.

Kurtz is the symbol of a rational human being lost in the dense of irrationality where his incapability to be returned away from the central station of Africa is an example of how he is incapable to escape from his unconscious psyche.

In the conclusion, the movement of Kurtz’s and Marlow’s from the outer station to the inner station and finally to the central station can be compared with the act of human beings journey from conscious psyche, to the subconscious psyche and finally to the conscious psyche. Marlow’s return from the central station is an example of the victory of the human beings who possess the play drive. But Kurtz’s incapability to return from the central station or the darkness of Africa is an example of an unsuccessful human beings who cannot return from the unconscious psyche. There evidences makes the novel sound of psychological novel having the characters involving in the inner journey.

Marlow’s Characterization

  • The protagonist of Novella
  • He is the man of rationality
  • With the hard labour, he moves towards the Africa crossing the outer satation, inner station and central station.
  • His journey from the outer station, inner station and finally to the central station is an example of the rational human being’s act of moving from conscious psyche to the sub-conscious psyche and finally to the unconscious psyche.
  • Marlow’s return from the central station is the example of the rational human beings’ act of controlling the irrationality.
  • Marlow’s hardship to be returned from the African locality is the symbol of the hardships that have to be based by the persons who have determined to be returned from the unconscious or irrationality.

Post colonial novel “The Heart of Darkness”

–  After colonialism

– Against colonialism

  • Post- Colonialism is the negative attitude towards the colonial authority that may occur in the time of colonialism or after the time of colonial mission how the colonizers are facing the problems in the colonized locations and how the colonized cultures is degraded due to the colonial exploitation.
  • Kurtz is the symbol of colonizer is tries to exploit the native people but the he himself is colonized or exploited by the colonized culture.
  • The conflict between the agents of colonialism namely Kurtz and Marlow is the symbolical of the decay of colonialism which is in its initial form
  • The humanity and the morality remain no longer in the colonizers when they focus upon the excessive greed for power and money.

There are three scaffold scenes in the “Scarlet Letter”

  • Hester’s climbing on the scaffold
  • Dimmesdale’s action of climbing the scaffold in the night
  • The Real climbing f Arthur Dimmesdale in the scaffold amidst the public.

Structural merits and demerits of “Robinson Crusoe”


  • The support of the grand narrative of the European colonial mission of discovery and humanism
  • The structure of the novel is supporting the sacrifice of the character of money – minded rationality


  • the novel does not show any reaction from the part of the colonized rather the colonized being like Friday are shown to have possessed the knowledge of English language and culture in greater intercity
  • The novel seem to be stolen from the autobiographical experience of a person named Alexander Selkirk
  • The novel is written from the perspective of all knowing character of Robinson Crusoe which lacks the reality in comparison to the novel” as I lay Dying” where multiple character are the narrators.

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