Conrad’s Pessimistic Approach in the Heart of Darkness

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  • 1. Conrad’s Pessimistic Approach in Heart of Darkness
  • 2. INTRODUCTION
    • Conrad’s general attitude to life is one of pessimism.
    • A pessimist is a person who tends to look at the dark side of life only.
    • Conrad had an inner desire to reveal the miserable situation of Congo.
    • Neville H.Newhouse in his book Literature in perspectives has written that Conrad said ,”Until I visited Africa in 1890,I was' just a mere animal.’”
  • 3.
    • Conrad meant by these words that he experienced in Africa a peculiarly intense insight into the possibilities of evil in man.
    • He tells his listener that “the conquest of the earth was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale and men going at it blind as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness.”
    • These remarks show that although Conrad is regarded as a pessimistic novelist, yet he has the ability to display the shortsightedness, corruption and fanaticism of human life.
  • 4.
    • We can say that perhaps Conrad felts especially troubled by the mystery of Fate.
    • As in the novel two women one fat and other slim, knitting black wool……..I thought of these two, guarding the door of darkness….,one introducing continuously to the unknown, the other scrutinizing the cheery and foolish faces with unconcerned old eyes.
    • Marlow’s conversation with the doctor also reveals Conrad’s sense of insecurity about Fate. The doctor says, "avoid irritation more than exposure to the sun”
  • 5.
    • “ A lot of people, mostly black and naked, moved about like ants,……..the ‘criminals’….the joints of their limbs were like knots in a rope; each had an iron collar on his neck….with a chain whose bights swing between them, rhythmically clinking.”
    • “ eating ‘hop-fish', and ‘a brass coin’ “
    • Conrad tells Garet that “he(Conrad) must write Heart of Darkness for the sake of the shekels.”
    • Tim Middleton writes in his book Joseph Conrad that, "the criminality of inefficiency and pure selfishness when tackling the ‘civilizing work in Africa is a justifiable idea.’”So Tim has also appreciated Conrad’s approach of writing a’pessimistic’but a ‘real scenario novel.’
  • 6.
    • The death of the helmssman also creates a desperate situation. "the had gone in out of sight, after making a frightful gash; my shoes were full; a pool of blood lay very still……but he died without moving a limb, without uttering a sound and without twitching a muscle.”
    • “ by the power of written words to make you hear….feel and before all, to make you see.”
    • Ian Watt has “influentially termed this attack and death of helsman as ‘delayed decoding’ to evoke the experience of witnessing events before they are fully understood.”
  • 7.
    • Character of Office clerk.”He was shabby and careless…..cravat was large and billowy. Under a chin shaped like the toe of an old boot.”
    • “ He was an unshaven little man in a thread bare coat like a gabardine,….and I thought him a harmless fool.”
    • “ The helmsman was the most unstable kind of fool,….he kept on lifting and setting down his feet gently ,his mouth foamed a little,….as well have ordered a tree not to sway in the wind.”
  • 8. Conclusion
    • Conrad was certainly aware of the virtues of loyality,fidelity and integrity which are found in human beings; but he has also emphasized in his novel upon the misery, cruelty and misfortunes which afflict human life.
    • Neville H.Newhouse has written in his book Literature in Perspectives that “best novels don’t suffer the reader either romance or reality, but a current of both,' extraordinary rich and mixed.’”