Free Essay Example: Fables of Modernity and Irony

Published: 2023-01-22
Free Essay Example: Fables of Modernity and Irony
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Character analysis Books World literature
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1336 words
12 min read

Fables of ambiguity and irony are typical styles used by many authors worldwide. We define uncertainty as a state of inexactness in which a story or message is open to more than a single interpretation. Nowadays, art is not just applauded solely depending on its subject or symbolic reality depiction; instead, we base it on the exactness or ease of directly relating content with one's real life. Joseph Conrad, in his novel, 'Hearts of Darkness" keenly, uses strategic ambiguities in some of his characters to have an impact on the novel readers on a closer personal level. The structure of the novel is such that it focuses on the essence than mere identity. The irony is equally evident in the book 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' by Oscar Wilde. We also see the irony in characters such as Dorian in an attempt to embrace modernity.

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Ironically, James Vane, who had been baying for Dorian's blood ever since Sibyl killed herself but has not had any leads to get him. It happens after Dorian rides towards a destination with full believe of Lord Henry's words, "To cure the souls using the senses and the senses using the soul" (Conrad 4). However, Dorian tricks James into believing that is not him when he sees him at the Opium den by lying that he is too young to have met Sibyl who passed away eighteen years earlier. James believes him and releases him. Dorian leaves for an Opium den to escape the guilt of his crime of killing Basil. A woman approaches James and condemns him for letting Dorian go; he tries to search for him in vengeance but its too late as he has already left.

One evening as Dorian was resting on a steamboat, his uncle uttered, "I am as harmless as a little child, but I don't like to be dictated to. Am I the manager, or am I not?" (Conrad 50). The words sound ambiguous a concerned his manager. It is not clear what the author meant when he used Dorian's uncle to express his opinion in those words posing as his manager.

Conrad uses ambiguity in character Dorian in that after he realizes that James Vane is stalking him in connection with being the reason behind Sibyl's decision to commit suicide, he resolves to live righteously for that day onwards. He even decides not to break the heart of naive Hetty Merton. However, Dorian is fully aware that his true motives for moral reformation are immoral. It is ambiguous that even after his resolution to be righteous, Dorian goes ahead to destroy the remaining piece of evidence of his involvement in the murder of Basil.

In the hearts of Darkness, we see ambiguity through the use of light. Light is intended to symbolize enlightenment and act of goodness. The author seems to portray a dark vision so much that it confuses the reader whether he believes in light. Uncertainty is seen by Marlow when he says, "sunlight can be made to lie, too" (Conrad 50). Slowly by slowly, we know the light giving way to darkness. The author expresses modernity is in that there is the use of styles such as symbolism to evoke interest in the readers and to provoke their thinking.

The pictures of Dorian Gray deeply approve of newer social behaviors such as homosexualityGay undertones are expressed between three main characters, namely; Dorian, Lord Henry, and Basil Hallward (Oscar 2). Lord Henry upon noting that Basil has a powerful feeling towards Dorian, he tells him not to spoil him. These characters prove that society is gradually embracing same-sex attraction is embraced. Sexual affection between men is too integral to the novel's characters. There is unambiguity on the way forward for critical social concerns of same-sex relationships as they over condemned. Gays are seen struggling with evident socially unacceptable proclivities.

Furthermore, there is ambiguity in the painting and the yellow book. It ends up having a significant effect on Dorian's behavior over almost two decades. Reflecting on Dorian's power over Basil, he decides that he would like to seduce him the same way. Dorian ends up killing Basil on account of idolatry. Similarly, his devotion to Lord Henry's hedonism and the yellow book precipitates his quick downfall. The novel seems to value individualism, which later on leads to one's destruction as evidenced by characters such as Dorian.

Authors use ambiguity by using an Opium Dens, located in a remote section of London, (Conrad 13). This place is meant to symbolize Dorian's mental state. He hurriedly flees after committing murder. In his mind, he thinks that by doing so, he would correct that crime. He decides to erase that crime by also losing his consciousness by using drugs. The author is intended to ascertain the fact that authors can use objects to communicate peoples' behavior or mannerism.

In the novel Hearts of darkness, at the beginning of the novel, Marlow compares British colonialization to the old Roman conquerors and says "What saves us is efficiency-the devotion to efficiency" (Conrad 3), later the British-run post is seen not to be devoted and inefficient. Additionally, despite plenty of supplies that Marlow has before, he is financially unable to repair his steamboat after it gets ruined. Most of his predictions are ambiguous and inaccurate.

The irony is also evident in Conrad's novel with the company clerk. At the start, after Marlow meets the company clerk to sign all his paperwork to become a captain, the clerk spends the conversation praising the company and the work they are doing in the Congo. One would have expected that he would wish he would go there or feel sorry that he is not already there, but tells Marlow that he thinks that the people going there are very stupid and foolish. This ambiguity is evident in modern times when most employees are not as devoted and committed to there work as they claim to be.

Mr. Kurtz portrays another ambiguity on his stand on whites on African countries. There is a transformation at the central station at the company, where Mr. Kurtz is an agent. He has been very intellectual and has written one pamphlet on the role of a white man in developing countries. He categorically indicates that whites could offer significant benefits to developing countries. Mr. Kurtz had high progressive views on white men in most of the unexplored African countries. However, towards the end of his pamphlet, he pens "Exterminate all the brutes" (Conrad 8). This appears to contradict his different opinion that whites have a constructive role in African countries. It proves the existence of indecisive people in the society who fails to have one standpoint concerning a topic.

Conrad also expressed ambiguity on the way Marlow soon after being heavily opposed to Mr. Kurtz becomes a keen admirer of him. One would have expected that as intelligent as Marlow is he, he would keep reacting adversely to Kurtz's manner of hero-worshiping the whites at the expense of his race. Unexpectedly, Marlow becomes attached to him to the point that he uses his convincing power to get him back to the cabin of the ship from the forest. Despite the evil that creeps in, both keep holding the man in high regard. These men symbolize lack of savagery and heavy primitivity by some of the leaders entrusted to fight for their subjects, (Conrad 73).

In conclusion, it is unfortunate that some leaders whom we entrust to fight for our rights sometimes turn against us and sell us out. However, like in the illustrations made above, there is the need for every novel reader to accurately analyze a character to avoid misinterpretation of their words or moves as this may skew the understanding of the storyline. Irony is a powerful writing tool that should be embraced by authors as it evokes interest in the readers.

Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph. Youth; Heart of Darkness. J.M. Dent, 1965.

Wilde, Oscar, and Oscar Wilde. The Picture of Dorian Gray; and, For Love of the King. Routledge/Thoemmes, 1993.

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