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Volume :8 Issue : 31 1988      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

The Significance of the Frame in Heart of Darkness

Auther : M. K. Kharbutli

Heart of Darkness is often read as a fictional account of Kurtzs or Marlows experience in Africa and of its implications on Conrads views on civilization. What takes place on the Nellie is usually regarded as a framing device, although some critics have paid some attention to its thematic contribution. My paper deals with this framing device as an integral part of the novel, showing that it defines more comprehensively Conrads somewhat Freudian position with respect to the question of civilization. I have tried to illustrate that social interaction as viewed by Conrad is marked by invasion and aggression and that the achievement of civilization lies in its having been able to humanize such interaction through a process of sublimation. Moreover, Marlows pose on the Nellie serves as a counterpart of Kurtzs in Africa. So, while Marlow is deflated, the use of the counterpoise serves to reflect the march of civilization. Here we can see Conrads struggle to hold on to some belief in progress even if the result is naive optimism. This is a manifestation of his will to believe, one of the most characteristic features of the Victorian Age.

 

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