When you hear of the Victorian Era, what crosses your mind? One of your first thoughts is probably of Queen Victoria herself, one of the longest ruling monarchs in the history of England. You might also think of the architecture and houses that became popular in that era. You might believe, like many, that the Victorian Era was one of progress and improvements. This is true. Many advances were made during the Victorian Era. For example, between 1809 and 1839, exports grew from £25.4 to £76 million . Great Britain also made advances in communication, using the steamship, railway, and electric telegraph. James Watt and Matthew Boulton improved Britain’s core industries by using steam power in coal mining. The First and Second Reform Acts
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Conrad used both detail and ambiguity to describe his characters. Oftentimes, what Conrad doesn’t say about his characters is most important. The way Conrad described, or rather didn’t describe, the characters in Heart of Darkness poignantly emphasized the theme of the hollowness of civilization. For example, Conrad rarely gave his characters names. He distinguished between them only by their job titles. For instance, at the beginning of the book, Conrad introduced five men: the narrator, the Director of Companies, the Lawyer, the Accountant, and Marlow. Of these five friends, the only name we learn is Marlow’s. This technique demonstrated that these men cared only about their jobs and how they appeared to others. They were more focused on appearances than the soul.
But Conrad was not always ambiguous in how he described his characters. For example, Conrad was specific in his description of the Chief Accountant as having an appearance that was certainly “of a hairdresser’s dummy”. Wearing starched shirts and pressed pants, the Chief Accountant had a refined appearance. At first, Marlow seemed to like him, as he reminded Marlow of London society. But underneath the clean, starched shirt was nothing of worth, as was shown when the Chief Accountant mildly stated, “When one has to make correct entries, one comes to hate these savages—hate them to death”. The man cared nothing for the natives of Africa, but only for his financial gain.
This brings me to my second point.