Everywhere there is the drumbeat of the natives, and the ominous reminder of the presence of untamed native life. Blackness is the dominant image of the Congo in Heart of Darkness — whirls of black limbs, the black water — all of which suggest that the environment is anathema and destructive to white civilization, as manifest in the persona of Kurtz. The natural beauty of the land, its colors, and the nuances of local cultures of tribes that would be perceptible to an Africa blur into a singular image of darkness in Conrads prose.
Q4. Some critics argue that you can only fully understand a piece of literature if you understand the historical events that were ongoing when it was being written. Others argue that each piece of literature is independent of its historical context and you should not have to look for information outside the text to understand it. What do you think?
Understanding the historical context of a piece of literature, while not essential, undeniably adds to the pleasure of reading a work of literature.
Understanding the Romantic William Blakes outrage about industrialized England places into context his radical, socialist vision in works such as “London.” The misery Blake sees is depicted as a direct product of industrialization, not a general sense of urban decay. The Victorian Matthew Arnolds use of science of the period is essential in understanding “To Marguerite — Continued.” Arnold uses the geographical concept of the original continent, and the fact that all nations were one, as a symbol of the sense of connection all human beings feel — but fail to find in their current, separated lives. And the modernist Joseph Conrads colonial context is especially essential to understand Heart of Darkness, which otherwise seems dated and racist to modern eyes. The fact that Conrad is writing deliberately through a colonial perspective to show what he saw as the negative effects of colonization makes the work more intelligible to.