Assess the importance of setting in Heart of Darkness

Essay by selisUniversity, Bachelor's September 2004

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The setting is the basis of every story or novel, the basis of every prose work. Heart of Darkness is by no means an exception. Joseph Conrad's nouvelle or rather said mysterious work is not being easily understood let alone assessed. But each reader of Heart of Darkness should try to solve the mystery the author has opened.

The setting reveals itself to be a mystery within the mystery. What is really the setting of Conrad's nouvelle? And is it at all important to the work as a whole? Is it the usual setting of an adventure story that was popular at the time, is it a place of darkness, the heart of it, or just the jungle in the Congo region? The setting may be all of the above and it looks like composed of several different ones colouring the mysteriousness of the nouvelle, some contrasting the others.

Heart of Darkness begins in a voice that is not belonging to the protagonist.

This later appears to be the auditor of the protagonist's(Marlow's) story, so for short he may be called the Auditor. His introduction reveals that the setting is a yawl, called Nellie, swinging on the surface of the Thames awaiting for the turn of the tide so she can sail off. The beginning of the setting reminds the Auditor of England's naval glory, he recalls the great knights - known and unknown - of the sea while the banks of the Thames remind Marlow that they have also been "one of the dark places of the earth". And exactly the word "dark" is the one that defines the setting throughout the whole of the nouvelle, varying only in shades. This becomes crystal clear from the moment Marlow begins to speak and he speaks through the whole of the...