The first thing I noticed about Heart of Darkness is the unusual narrative. Although the story of Marlow is told through the lens of the narrator, it feels as though Marlow himself is the narrator. I then started to wonder the purpose of having Marlow narrating his own story in quotations; why not let the novel be told from Marlow’s perspective instead? What is the significance of having a first person narrator observing Marlow’s story? Perhaps in having a third party to narrate the story, Conrad can present a more complete and solid account, though the narrator faded into the background after the first two pages and did not reappear until the last. I can’t help but think that the narrator is there just to set the scene and describe Marlow.
But after considering the theme of the story, I have come to another conclusion. In the novel, Conrad addresses controversial issues such as imperialism and racism, revealing the corruption that haunts every human existence. The fact that Conrad, an Englishman, writes about the darkness and hypocrisy of imperialism easily makes him a racist from others’ point of view. Hence, the presence of a narrator conveys how it is difficult to address such matters directly without instigating violent responses. There is a barrier to overcome in order to truly represent the darkness within.
Another thing I noticed that the sinister women who were knitting that Marlow came across. Perhaps it’s just me but I see a possible foreshadowing there, or symbolism. The act of knitting represents the entanglement and the struggles. And how difficult it is to extricate oneself….