Joseph Conrad Essay Research Paper Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad Essay, Research Paper Joseph Conrad: An Innovator in British Literature Joseph Conrad’s innovative literature is influenced by his experiences in traveling to

Joseph Conrad Essay, Research Paper

Joseph Conrad: An Innovator in British Literature

Joseph Conrad’s innovative literature is influenced by his experiences in traveling to

foreign countries around the world. Conrad’s literature consists of the various styles of

techniques he uses to display his well-recognized work as British literature. “His prose style,

varying from eloquently sensuous to bare and astringent, keeps the reader in constant touch with a

mature, truth-seeking, creative mind” (Hutchinson 1). Conrad’s novels are basically based on

having both a psychological and sociological plot within them. This is why Conrad’s work carries

its own uniqueness from other novels when being compared to his.

Examples of Conrad’s literature include novels such as Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, and

The Secret Agent. Heart of Darkness is basically based on his own experiences, but Conrad also

adds fiction into this particular novel (Dintenfass 1). It has been said that Conrad’s style of

writing is described as “…life as we actually live it…[is] to be blurred and messy and confusing–

and the abstract ideas…[of] actual experiences can sometimes produce in us, or in that part of us,

anyway, which tries to understand the world in some rational way.” Acquiring this from the novel

gives the reader a psychological perspective in that they are receiving feedback in a conscious way

such as a hallucination or a phantasm (Dintenfass 2). Readers have curiously questioned the

purpose of his novels such as Heart of Darkness, but the answer is quite simple. “[The] purpose

is to get the reader to re-live [any] experience in some [significant] and concrete way, with all its

complexity and messiness, all its darkness and ambiguity, intact” (Dintenfass 3). An additional

novel with similar characteristics of the novel Heart of Darkness is Lord Jim. Not much is said

about Lord Jim, but it has been known that Conrad most likely will place metaphors in his novel

when describing a location extrinsic from any common place. The reason for adding metaphors

is because Conrad attempts to locate the contrasted parts of human nature by lavishing it with an

intensely fierce characteristic. Successfully, Conrad accomplishes this attempt, but the primary

similarity between the Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim is that both novels “place men in extreme

situations far from their European homes” (Hutchinson 1), which will give this type of literature a

nostalgic atmosphere as the reader may realize. As stated before, not much information is taken

upon the novel Lord Jim, but this novel is mainly used to compare similarities with the novel

Heart of Darkness, since they are much alike in a number of ways. As for the novel The Secret

Agent, it is basically based on an actual event in a bombing attempt against the Greenwich

Observatory located at Greenwich, London. The novel seems to be a satire for a good portion,

but the plot of the story turns dark when it involves the conspiracy against the anarchists

(Hamblin 3).

In short, we realize that Conrad’s ideas and concepts are derived from intending to renew

the readers with a figure reflection of the unorganized world that is viewed by Conrad himself

(Dintenfass 5). Conrad’s concept is taken up with some religion in all his novels, since it is a way

of observing the way Conrad revives the dark sides of his characters (Dintenfass 7). Overall, we

realize that all three novels have a primary similarity; we find that they all include a portion of

both fiction and reality.

Conrad’s style of techniques includes his organization of his thoughts, his use of literary

forms, and significant themes. His organization of thoughts illustrate that you can discover an

opinionated interest in the world others have not found to say without ever capturing or

understanding it (Dintenfass 7). Most of Conrad’s opinionated interest towards the world came

through his mind politically and viewed on the issue of revolution (MBL 95). Conrad’s thoughts

also included to move further from his experiences of travel and more into creating a fictional

novel, while lacking personal adventures or feelings (MBL 97). In doing this, Conrad’s

characters became to be more like himself (MBL 93). Conrad does this since he believes that the

individual “enables [himself or herself] to make [their] way through the world” (MBL 94). The

reason Conrad has stated this was because this is his own and only personal strong opinion

towards the world that he includes in his novels.

His literary form consists of three parts which includes the three-fold structure, Russian

doll effect, and opposing images. The three-fold structure is explained as how the book is divided

into three chapters that contain three different characters, in which the narrator comes back to

state a summary and the significance of each chapter. The Russian doll effect is to be understood

as form within a form–a repetition of a story around a story–being similar to when unraveling

one part of a story, there is still another part to be unraveled until you are down to the end of the

story line. The opposing images are the components of using all senses of the human body to

have a strong understanding when reading along any of Conrad’s novels (Dintenfass 8).

Furthermore, Conrad’s themes deals with alienation, breakdown of communication, and

death. The theme of alienation pertains to having the character feeling as if they don’t belong in a

certain resident, which usually causes dissolution throughout Conrad’s novels. Briefly, the

breakdown of communication simply leads to the devastation of relationships in Conrad’s

characters, which has been considered as a characteristic of a Shakespearean tragedy. Death is

not a significant theme, but is needed to receive feedback from the expansion of the story line

(Hamblin 4). Altogether, Conrad’s style of techniques all play a significant role no matter how

minor or major the elements of his style may be.

Psychological and sociological perspectives have also played a dominant part, which

includes experiences in both dreams and truth, including his forms of expression in multiplicity,

ambiguity, and irony. Psychologically, Conrad causes his characters to become lost in their own

imagination during their dreams, usually to reveal heroism and lacking reality towards the feeling

of heroism (CESNP 1276). In understanding the novel from this point of view, the reader has to

solve the novel from its puzzling complexity to comprehend both the character and plot (CESNP

1277). “He is interested in life, but he does not love it; and in detaching himself as an artist

entirely from life, his interest in it has actually become greater, has become interest and nothing

else (TCLC 199). This simply means that if he grows away from reality, his thoughts become

fulfilled with interest in creating a great novel from imagination. Sociologically, Conrad creates

an atmosphere around the characters in creating two groups “of those who conquer and those

who are conquered.” Uniquely, Conrad is variant from a sociologist, since he is not neutral and is

scientifically disjointed from the statement made. Conrad, in other words, experiments more on

the psychological side of his novels rather than on the sociological side (Dintenfass 6). As for

truth in Conrad’s literature, he is known to include the truth from both the mind and the essence

of encounterings “and it is these kinds of truths..that art, and art alone, can convey to us”

(Dintenfass 5). In addition to this, moral ethics takes a part to make this statement clear to

readers in saying that both purpose and wrong is evil, and the moral is opposite from this.

In respect to Conrad’s forms of expression, he uses multiplicity, ambiguity, and irony

(Dintenfass 10). Multiplicity derives from his various use of expression that deals with his

experiences in both dreams and truth. In relation to this, Conrad uses symbolism to display the

value of expression in his works (WLC 784). Ambiguity is pieced together when his novels take

on a puzzling and complex style when uncertainty gains on Conrad’s ideas. To Conrad, this is

considered a lapse of qualification, which is explained as having his ideas being held back

temporarily in causing the story line to detach itself from making sense, but fortunately this

doesn’t undermine his style of expression (WLC 783). Finally, irony is featured when he

combines both truth and fiction. There is no telling Conrad’s experiences from the fiction in his

novels to have his readers comprehend the reality from the imagination. This is the reason why

readers occasionally mistaken his novels as being described as a satire at times (WLC 784). All in

all, Conrad has viewed his literature as a psychologist and moralist (TCLC 199). The

psychological and sociological perspective has a major purpose in Conrad’s novels, since they

both make up the experiences in dreams, truth, and the forms of expression that includes

multiplicity, ambiguity, and irony.

In conclusion, when reflecting back at Joseph Conrad’s work, the reader will most likely

realize his talent in literature writing. Conrad structured his novels primarily from his style of

techniques in which his organization of his thoughts, literary form, and themes have all played a

dominant part. The most significant aspect featured in his novel that has overpowered his primary

structure is his use in viewing both the psychological and sociological perspective of his work.

Without this included, Conrad knew his work could not be known as unique when compared to

other authors’ novels. Finally, there is a comment that summarizes Joseph Conrad’s style of

writing, in which it stated:

“It is obvious that, while Conrad never formulated any rules, he was

forever trying out new methods, hitting upon this or that new procedure, it

may be, by instinct rather than by deliberation; but it was the instinct of a

man profoundly concerned with method, forever on the lookout for some

new way of cheating oblivion and saving his chosen art from the dry-rot of

monotony and academicism.” (TCLC 199)

Brytonski, Dedria, and Phyllis C. Mendelson, eds. Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Vol. 1

Detroit: Hale Research Co., 1978.

Dintenfass, Mark. “Heart of Darkness: A Lawrence University Freshman Studies Lecture.” 14

Mar. 1996. ** (2 Feb. 2000).

Draper, James P., ed. World Literature Criticism: 1500 to the Present. Vol. 2 Detroit: Gale

Research Inc., 1992.

Hamblin, Stephen. “Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent.”

** (2 Feb. 2000).

The Hutchinson Encyclopedia. 1999. 2 Feb. 1999.


Magill, Frank N., ed. 1,300 Critical Evaluations of Selected Novels and Plays. Vol. 2

Englewood Cliffs: Salem Press Inc., 1976.

Stein, Rita, and Martin Tucker, eds. Modern British Literature. Vol. 4 New York: Frederick

Ungar Publishing Co., 1975.