Sample English Paper on “Looking beneath the Surface”

Sample English Paper on “Looking beneath the Surface”

Heart of Darkness is an 1899 novella by Joseph Conrad that involves exploration up the river Congo in Africa. On the other hand, Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is a German novella released in 1915. In his book Heart of Darkness, Conrad brings out the theme of looking beneath the surface in a particular way. He exposes the idea that when one looks beneath the surface of human civilization, one finds a subtle oppression of weaker communities. On the other hand, Kafka in The Metamorphosis depicts the same concept by indicating that under the cover of family love lies the influence of financial status. In both Heart of Darkness and Metamorphosis, the theme of looking beneath the surface is richly employed.

In Heart of Darkness, Conrad describes the events that took place in association with Africa’s colonization, a place referred to as the Dark Continent. He uses a main character, Marlow, who was employed by a Belgian Company. The company allegedly was meant to partake in trade with the Congolese in order to promote their quality of life. However, when Marlow looks beneath the surface of the matter from the very first days in the company, he realises how the company oppressed the Africans. The Congolese were compelled to work under very poor conditions for little, and at times, no pay, contrary to the company’s claims to the people regarding its purpose.

Making the matter even worse, Kurtz, whom Conrad depicts as a typical colonist in the book, institutes himself in the position of a deity in the indigenous Congolese community. Kurtz achieves this through subtle inhumane methods which become apparent when Marlow notices several heads of murdered people on the fences. Kurtz furthermore, feeling that his actions in the community were unlimited, partakes in ivory raids that turned bloody in the surrounding communities. With this view, Conrad uses the theme of looking beneath the surface and highlights how civilization has lost its meaning for victimized communities. It was simply a way of dominating weaker societies without being questioned or controlled by anyone.

Franz Kafka, in turn, in Metamorphosis queries family love and bonds and, looking at the reverse side of the matter, depicts his protagonist as a beast. Gregor in the Novella wakes up one morning and to his shock finds he has turned into a huge beetle, nevertheless still having the mind of a human. Initially Gregor being a successful salesman was a loved member of the family. However, after this transformation despite trying to still have a good relationship with his father, mother and sister, they expel him to isolation.

Although at first they try to meet his basic needs, they later reject him and their indifference rapidly progresses to pure hatred. In his efforts to reunite with them once more Gregor at one time hears Greta state that he was no longer human and the family had to get rid of him. Although Franz’s imagery in the story is seemingly unrealistic in the real world, looking beneath the surface of the considerably strong psychological family bonds, one finds the slavery of dependent love. A family member will receive love and tender care on condition that the family draws some financial support from the member; however, if this fails, they become reluctant and cold.

Both these novellas employ a very important thematic feature in literature, of developing plots. Both authors reduce their intended message to a seemingly vague and irrelevant image for the reader. Nevertheless, looking beneath the surface of each story, one will notice how strongly some social facts are revealed. The two novellas are interesting; when reading them however, one has to look at the deeper meaning of each sentence and the intended message by the two authors.