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Heart of Darkness

by Joseph Conrad
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How can I write a note on the narrative mode in the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad?

Expert Answers

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This novel uses a "frame" to tell the story. What does that mean? It means that there is a story within a story.  We have the story of the men all sitting around reminscing, plus the story of the journey upriver, narrated in the first person by Marlow, but being told to this group of men. As Marlow speaks, the reader does not know who is relating what he says.  All we know is that the person who is telling us the story of Marlow telling the story is in this group of men.  This means that we are learning about the setting from the unknown narrator and learning about Marlow's journey filtered through the eyes and ears of the unknown narrator. 

Does this narrative device affect your reading of the story? This is a question that you might want to address in your "note."  Is the unknown narrator reliable? Does he accurately set forth what Marlow has to say?  Furthermore, you might want to think about whether Marlow is reliable.

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