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This paper explores the similarities in plot, themes, and characterization between Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. The two texts differ, however,· in terms of genre and language style: whereas Heart of Darkness avoids giving explicit details of its depraved character Mr. Kurtz in the Congo, Blood Meridian is frank in its enumeration of violence in southwestern America. Also, whereas the landscape of Heart of Darkness is described in terms similar to Julia Kristeva's female-oriented semiotic language, the landscape of Blood Meridian is similar to Kristeva's male-structured, symbolic language. McCarthy's text thus serves as the explication and fulfillment of the reticence and ambiguity of Heart of Darkness within the American genre. Using Kristeva's poetic languages and Mikhail Bahktin's carnivalesque, this paper also shows how these differences of language style are subverted, yielding a reading of Blood Meridian that is much less phallocentric than a superficial reading would suggest.


Honors Capstone Project completed in 2012 for Olivet Nazarene University.