Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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How does Conrad create mood and atmosphere in Heart of Darkness?

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Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is a compelling but challenging work that requires a lot of thinking and re-reading to discover what is actually going on.

First, the originality of Conrad's writing impacts the work's mood and atmosphere. Conrad's novel is written as a series of nested narratives where the anonymous narrator is describing how the protagonist Marlow is narrating his experiences in the Congo Free State. The various narratives also confusingly relate back to each other and jump back and forth in time. Marlow also narrates events as he is perceiving them in real time, which describes his (and our) slow realization as to what is actually happening. This mysterious and jarring quality of Conrad's style helps set a mood where the reader is destabilized, confused, and upended just as Marlow was on his journey.

Conrad, through the unnamed narrator, explained his philosophy about the expression of meaning, where he says "to [Marlow] the meaning of an episode was not inside like a...

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