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The White Collars in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

The White Collars in Heart of Darkness

In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Charles Marlow relates to his listeners aboard the Nellie the story of his service with a European company operating in the African Congo. Arriving in this European country to interview for employment, Marlow recalls, “I arrived in a city that always makes me think of a white sepulchre. Prejudice no doubt” (73). But whose prejudice is he speaking of: his or that of the citizens of that commercial center? Either way, his image is prophetic. The white sepulchre contains the remains of the countless Africans slaughtered by these colonizers–not in the form of corpses, but in the wealth that has been stolen from the African continent. The significance of the sepulchre’s whiteness (and that of the longed-for ivory) lies in the contrasting images of a piece of white worsted and the starched white collars that Marlow comes upon in the jungles of the Congo. While the collars represent the violence, oppression, and hatred that dominate the European’s treatment of the African, the white worsted is an attempt by …

Siddhartha Essays: Form, Style, and Content

Form, Style, and Content in Siddhartha

Joseph Mileck asserts in Hermann Hesse: Life and Art that Siddhartha is a perfect exemplification of what he calls, “conscious craftsmanship”. For Mileck, Hesse consciously synchronized form and substance in Siddhartha to best illustrate a feeling of unity and the journey through the mind, body, and soul. In Siddhartha, Hesse consciously crafted a piece that is unified in form, style, and content, and created an atmosphere in which each one of these elements is perfectly complementary with the others.

In order to communicate most accurately the inner journey of Siddhartha through the three stages of experience, Hesse maintains appropriate rhythm and form throughout the novel. In terms of structure, Siddhartha is comprised of twelve chapters broken down into three groups of three chapters, in which each group is subsequently followed by an interlude. The interlude serves the function of dissipating and refocusing the energy which is built in the preceding three chapters. For example, the first three chapters describe Siddhartha’s experiences in the land of the spirit, and ends with the interlude, “Awakening”, in which Siddhartha is awakened with the idea that he is spiritually unattached and must seek a new path.

In the next three chapters, Siddhartha experiences the land of the senses and of corporal pleasure. This second group of three chapters is followed by the interlude, “By the River”,which serves “to consolidate the experiences just past and prepare Siddhartha for those to come.” The final three chapters are concerned with working towards a synthesis of the spiritual and the sensual, which is achieved in the final chapter, “Om”. Siddhartha is completed wit…

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…t the novel imparts a systematic, methodical tone to Siddhartha, and together with the consciously created form unifies the experiences of Siddhartha, permitting a feeling of closure and meditation on the thoughts and ideas presented therein. There is certainly a unique rhythm to Siddhartha which is skillfully communicated both consciously and subconsciously. One can appreciate the conscious craftmanship” of the novel’s structure and style, while at the same time allowing the rhythm, feelings, and experiences to sift into one’s mind on a deeper, more subconscious level.

Works Cited:

Farquharson, Robert. An Outline of the Works of Hermann Hesse. London: Forum House Publishing Company, 1973.

Hesse, Herman. Siddhartha. Dover Publications, 1998.

Mileck, Joseph. Hermann Hesse: Life and Art. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1978.

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