Tag Archives: Colonialism

Optimism in Heart of Darkness: an analysis of the Harlequin

1: Conrad’s Heart of darkness, startled me a couple of years ago when I first read it. At that time I did not have a lot of back ground knowledge to the topics adressed in the book. I wanted to read it again is because in this course we talked a lot about colonialism, about westerners being subject to influence of unknown territories, about natives being victimized by the colonialists and so on. These themes are also present in Heart of Darkness and since we read The island of Doctor Moreaux, Robinson Crusoe but also A Small Place and Blu’s Hanging I feel that I have a better understanding of (post) colonial texts.

As I will be focusing on the Harlequin, I will need to close-read Marlow’s encounter with him carefully. Also Marlow’s encounter with Kurtz and the role of The Company in the story will be of importance to my writings about the function of the Harlequin in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

2: However, at this point there are many things that I still don’t fully grasp. If a complex book as Heart of Darkness can ever be fully grasped. The following questions are important to my analysis:

1) How is the seemingly light character of the Harlequin to be seen in such a heavy and dark story?

2) How come that the wilderness and the darkness of the Congo have such a different impact on the Harlequin compared to the other characters?

3) Why did Conrad include this character in the story?

4) What does this character symbolize in the story?

5) What is according to previous research the general idea of the book?

3: The reason why I want to write about this book is because it seems to me the best example of estrangement. Not only in terms of the plot but perhaps even more so because of Conrad’s writing style. He totally estranges me as a reader from what happens in the story by his elaborate descriptions of the impenetrable wilderness. I’m also intrigued by Conrad’s tendency to mystify and abstract both his characters and their surroundings. Also,iIt is not at all a clear-cut idea that he puts forward. This book leaves me pondering. I hope through writing about it to enlarge my understanding of it tad more.

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The Legacy of the Library

The Library on the island of Antigua described in Jamaica Kincaid’s book A Small Place could be a symbol of many different things.  It could mean hope, or lack of progress, or it could even be a symbol for the entire nation of Antigua and all the struggles they are facing.  Antigua is a country that has been ruined by colonialism and is not in the process of finding a way to repair the legacy that the British left.  Similarly, after the earthquake the Library was left in ruins with the books being destroyed and a sign that simply reads “This Building was damaged in the earthquake of 1974. Repairs are pending” (Kincaid 42).  The same way that Antigua is forever waiting to repair the damage left by a force beyond their control, the Library is waiting to be restored to its former glory when it was a place of learning and an escape for the residents of the island.
Kincaid uses the issue of the Library to further illustrate the type of situation her people are stuck in.  Even something like a library that seems so essential has been left to rot without human intervention or protection.  The government and social situation that Kincaid sees on the island relates to this because the essential parts of a fair government are also being ignored and allowed to rot away into nothing.  Repairs on the government that has replaced the British are also pending, and until those issues are dealt with and those wounds are healed the Library will continue to be a symbol for the wreckage left in Antigua by the British, and it will never return to the symbol of hope and knowledge that the country needs.

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