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Explore the theme of danger with reference to the extracts from ‘Heart of Darkness’ and ‘Blood River’


Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ and Tim Butcher’s ‘Blood River’ both check out the style of risk throughout. This is attained through Conrad and Butcher’s option of lexis. The extract from ‘Heart of Darkness’ is taken from chapter eleven.

In this extract, Marlow and the rest of the crew of the steamboat are being attacked by the natives of the Congo. The extract from ‘Blood River’ is drawn from chapter ten (Bend in the River).

In this extract, Butcher describes how a child pickpocket is being assaulted by an African mob. Both books are written in 1st individual, but ‘Heart of Darkness’ is fiction, whereas ‘Blood River’ is non-fiction. ‘Heart of Darkness’ was released in 1899 and ‘Blood River’ was released in 2007. The characterisation and narrative techniques of the extracts are rather similar. In ‘Heart of Darkness’, Joseph Conrad provides a vibrant picture of how harsh the locals in the Congo might of been: “… the arrows can be found in swarms. They might have been poisoned … “

This recommends to the reader that in the Congo, nobody is completely familiar with the damage they trigger to others or appreciates the consequences of their actions as long as it does not impact them and highlights the dangerous nature of the Congo environment. In ‘Blood River’, Tim Butcher offers a vivid picture of violent life in the Congo: “… the mob parted and there was the boy, with his arms twisted behind his back”.

This suggests to the reader of how punishment is taken very seriously in the Congo, even when it is a child being included and shows simply how danger is so common, it comes naturally to the locals of the Congo. The contexts of the extracts are really various to each other. In ‘Heart of Darkness’, Conrad reveals to the reader that when the novel was published in 1899, life in the Congo was rather hazardous, so when Marlow is assaulted by the locals, while on the steamboat, it came as a surprise for him, although the threat was known to him: “Arrows by Jove! We were being contended! “

Making use of the word ‘Jove’ emphasises to the reader that the attack came as a shock for Marlow and highlights the natives and their reaction to foreigners. In ‘Blood River’, Butcher expresses to the reader that at the moment, life in the Congo is different to what it was half a century back, in the sense that people know more due to the fact that of travel, news, etc, but the Congo itself has actually become more ruthless and unsafe: “… I had witnesses numerous times during my stint covering Africa …

African mob justice was a scary thing.” This suggests to the reader that the Congo has actually altered drastically in time and that violence is now a common thing to take place. The contextual elements of the two texts are very different as they were written in different times and so the historical backgrounds behind them are various. For example, when ‘Heart of Darkness’ was composed, black guys were called ‘niggers’ and it was believed to be normal to do so at that time, however nowadays it would be an offense.

In ‘Blood river’, Bucher discusses how violent mobs is a thing he has actually “witnessed numerous times”, but half a century back was an extremely rare thing to discover in the Congo. The categories of the texts are somewhat various. ‘Heart of Darkness’ has a sense of risk and experience throughout most of the novel: “The side of his head hit the wheel two times, and completion of what appeared a long walking cane clattered round and overturned a little camp-stool.” This suggests to the reader that the novel has elements of risk in it and highlights the unsafe environment of the Congo.

‘Blood River’ also has the very same elements of danger inscribed in the novel, however is presented in an informative way: “In Swahili, toleka suggests ‘let’s go’, so shouting ‘toleka, toleka’, I urged my peddler to find the Cohydro workplaces. “This recommends to the reader that the genre of Butcher’s novel is daring, however is set out in a factual manner that might not be gotten in the very same method as Conrad’s amazing way of expressing danger in the Congo. The social, moral and political agendas of both texts are very various in the sense that the authors treat particular circumstances different ethically.

In ‘Heart of Darkness’, Marlow reveals that he has morals when he browses the steamboat to safety and attempts to help his fellow team members: “He stood before the broad opening, glaring, and I chewed out him to come back, while I corrected the abrupt twist out of that steamboat.” This recommends to the reader that Marlow is brave as he conserves many lives throughout the attack on the steamboat. In ‘Blood River’, however, Tim Bucher appears to desert his moral standards despite the fact that to assist people in the Congo is thought about pointless: “I was too preoccupied by my own emergency situation to worry about the boy’s plight.”

This too emphasises the futility of the crisis in the Congo and highlights the unsafe nature of the Congo environment. The functions of language modification in the extracts are only minor. In ‘Heart of Darkness’, when Marlow and the steamboat crew are attacked by the natives, the language seems antiquated to a contemporary reader in the sense that the language used is no longer in daily usage, however in some cases used to impart an old-fashioned flavour: “Arrows by Jove!”

Making use of the word ‘Jove’ shows the reader that the novel is very old-fashioned as nowadays we would utilize the expression ‘Oh my God!’ instead. In ‘Blood River’, Butcher often uses contemporary language when describing the threats of the Congo: “The young boy’s mouth was bleeding and the side of his face was squashed flat on the uneven concrete of the forecourt. It was a scene I had witnessed various times during my stint covering Africa.”

Using the contemporary word ‘stint’, which implies ‘job’, recommends to the reader that Butcher is attempting to sound more contemporary when describing the cruelty of the Congo and the unsafe nature of the Congo environment, and the casualness of the word highlights that violence is rather prevalent in the Congo. It might also suggest that Butcher is at ease when discussing African violence as he has actually stumbled upon so much of it in the past. In conclusion, both extracts of ‘Heart of Darkness’ and ‘Blood River’ explore the theme of danger in similar ways, however have different effects on the readers.

For instance, Conrad imaginary writing, although based on real occasions, could be seen by the reader as just fiction and unsafe aspects of the unique might not be as taken across as important as Butcher’s genuine expedition of the Congo and the dangers it contains. Both Conrad and Butcher have shown their own views of the Congo extremely carefully within the texts, to a level where the reader can see the views of both authors as their own, and permitting them to see how harmful the Congo environment really is.

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