Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

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What literary techniques in Heart of Darkness emphasize the story's dark mood?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The narration that was alluded to in the previous post is one of the most interesting literary techniques brought out in the novel.  Conrad's use of narration is divergent and fascinating.  Marlow narrates, but then a third person narrator assists in depicting Marlow's narration.  Given the fact that both narrations are driven by the impressions of Kurtz, which is composed by others' views, there is a tapestry of "truth" revealed.  In this light, one can understand one of the most thematic elements brought out through its style.  The composition of what it means to be "true" and what constitutes "truth" is something that is composed of different elements.  There can be no overarching or transcendent conception of truth, but rather snippets of individual perspectives that need to be taken together.  This compilation does not yield a clear view, but rather allows a better conception to emerge.  It is not black nor white, but much in way of grey.  We are left with different impressions of Kurtz, different beliefs of Marlow, and distinct impressions of colonization.  None of them are reductive nor easy.  This might be why there is a sense of a dark mood to the text, for nothing easy is present.  In contrast, it is complex in large part due to the different points of view presented, something that is brought out through the narrative style or literary technique in the work.

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Matt Copeland eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Any number of literary techniques could be outlined in response to this question. One of the strongest cases, however, could be made for Conrad's use of

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rayskx | Student

Both previous posts are correct in pointing out the dark/light motifs throughout the novella are not absolutes, but fall somewhere in the grey area.

Consider Conrad himself: born in Poland; became a British subject in 1886. By all accounts, his English was so very heavily accented as to be almost un-understandable. The technique of the unnamed narrator telling Marlow's story is Conrad's way of speaking clearly through his writing, rather than speaking out loud.

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