How are the following three texts linked and what key things could I write about? I have 8000 words to write.
1. Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart,
2. J. M Coetzee, Disgrace
3. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness.
This is an incredible journey to embark upon! I am very familiar with all three texts and would suggest the following topic:
How does being thrust into the heart of unadulterated nature change one from being civilized to being uncivilized?
Here is an appropriate thesis statement: "Things Fall Apart," "Disgrace," and Heart of Darkness all exemplify the harshness of untouched nature and how this savage world can change humanity.
In regards to structure of your essay (or research paper), I would suggest the following order: First paragraph (introduction), second paragraph (opposition paragraph about nature exhibiting peacefulness), third paragraph ("Things Fall Apart" exhibiting the harshness of nature, fourth paragraph ("Things Fall Apart" exhibiting how that harsh nature changed the humans in the story), fifth paragraph ("Disgrace" exhibiting the harshness of nature), sixth paragraph ("Disgrace" exhibiting how that harsh nature changed the humans in the story), seventh & eighth paragraphs (Heart of Darkness exhibiting the harshness of nature), ninth & tenth paragraphs (Heart of Darkness exhibiting that harsh nature changed the humans in the story), eleventh paragraph (conclusion). [The reasoning behind the double-paragraph structure for Heart of Darkness is because it's the longest of the three works of literature.]
to further help you, I'll be more specific with each work in regards to how "harsh nature" can be exhibited.
First, in "Things Fall Apart," the harshness of nature and specifically, the ultimate quest for power, can be exhibited more by the savage "white man" than from the peaceful tribes focused upon in the story. I would begin with Achebe's own words about his work of literature:
“Things Fall Apart" did no more than teach my readers that their past—with all its imperfections—was not one long night of savagery from which the first Europeans acting on God’s behalf delivered them.
A good primary source quotation would be as follows:
The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.
Second, in "Disgrace," the harshness of nature can be seen in the realm of sexual instinct. Although a very different aspect of nature, instinct still cannot be denied. Rape is common in this story and is not uncommon in the animal world. A good primary source quotation for these paragraphs would be as follows:
[Melanie] does not resist. All she does is avert herself: avert her lips, avert her eyes. She lets him lay her out on the bed and undress her: she even helps him, raising her arms and then her hips. ... Not rape, not quite that, but undesired nonetheless, undesired to the core.
And further, your second paragraph about "Disgrace" should be about how this harsh sexual instinct and horrid reality of rape changes the character of Melanie. Specifically, look at Melanie's unwilling acceptance of her situation.
Finally, in Heart of Darkness, the harshness of nature can be seen in the description of nature itself and what it does to Kurtz (and even to Marlow).
I tried to break the spell--the heavy, mute spell of the wilderness--that seemed to draw him to its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten and brutal instincts, by the memory of gratified and monstrous passions. This alone, I was convinced, had driven him out to the edge of the forest, to the bush, towards the gleam of fires, the throb of drums, the drone of weird incantations; this alone had beguiled his unlawful soul beyond the bounds of permitted aspirations.
Note the perfect connection to the other works you are studying with the term "forgotten and brutal instincts" and "monstrous passions"! The intensity of the harsh nature here is incredible, ... "the forest" ... "the bush" .... "the gleam of fires" ... etc. Point blank, Conrad says that it "beguiled his unlawful soul"! This is perfect for this particular essay!
Your second paragraph should be about what this nature does to Kurtz. Here are two perfect quotations to use as a primary source quotes:
You should have heard him say, "My ivory." Oh, yes, I heard him. "My Intended, my ivory, my station, my river, my—" everything belonged to him. It made me hold my breath in expectation of hearing the wilderness burst into a prodigious peal of laughter that would shake the fixed stars in their places. Everything belonged to him—but that was a trifle. The thing was to know what he belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed him for their own. That was the reflection that made you creepy all over.
But his soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself, and, by heavens! I tell you, it had gone mad.
Note what being plunged into the recesses of nature has done to Kurtz. He feels the power within it and claims all of these things (ivory, station, river) as his own. Then the wildness is portrayed by the action of intense laughter, revealing Kurtz as a sort of devil who has dived into the heart of darkness.
In regards to your conclusion, don't forget to begin with a reworded thesis, and then present a new idea for your reader to think about. How about something in the modern world that has changed an aspect of humanity. How about a gentle family man turning into a bloodthirsty soldier? Or how about regular people thrust into the wilderness of the show "Survivor" and end up metaphorically cutting each others' heads off? There are many ideas, also, that you should be able to come up with on your own. If possible, go with your own original idea.