Extract from an essay on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

 

Finally, when searching for racism in Conrad’s novel it is important to keep in mind the cultural and historical context. Heart of Darkness was originally published in 1899, as a three-part series for Blackwood’s Magazine. The story was written for a British audience and Britain was nearing the height of its empire when in 1922 it dominated one fifth of the world’s population. The idea of European racial superiority was the norm in Europe. Consequently, one can imagine that a British publication that blatantly refuted imperialism as a whole would be quite unpopular and rejected. The fact that the discouragement of racist thought often appears as a subtle message, is thus crucial for Conrad to convey his ideas to the public. The historical context of the novel also accounts for the shockingly nonchalant use of the words “niggers” or “savages”. These words that make us wince today are periodic reminders of the era that this novel comes from. Conrad only spent six months in the Congo before being sent back to Europe due to failing health. To write his novel, Conrad had to use accounts “drawn from the repertoire of Victorian imperialism and racism”. For example, Conrad himself never personally met any cannibals. Knowing facts such as these and being aware of the cultural and historical context affects the narrator’s credibility and puts the reader on guard.

 

 

 

Extract from an IA on Photosynthesis.

 

Background research:

Photosynthesis is the endothermic process by which autotrophs produce the organic nutrients (eg. glucose) that they require for cellular respiration. This anabolic reaction occurs according to the equation below:

6CO2 + 6H2O + Sunlight  C6H12O6 + 6O2

 

This reaction takes place within the chloroplasts of plant cells in a series of complex steps that can be placed into two main categories: the light dependent reactions and the light independent reactions (Calvin cycle). The three main limiting factors that control the rate of photosynthesis are: light intensity, carbon dioxide levels and temperature. When one of the numerous steps involved in photosynthesis is slowed by a limiting factor, this step becomes the “rate-determining step”. The limiting factor will thus control the rate of photosynthesis regardless of the other limiting factors. For light intensity the saturation range for most plants is 500 – 2000 (foot-candles). For carbon dioxide levels the saturation range is of 500 – 1000 (ppm). The optimum temperature for most plants is of around 25 ˚C. The concentrations of sodium bicarbonate are the independent variable in this experiment. The HCO3 (hydrogen carbonate) ion stimulates the production of oxygen when in the presence of light and a temperature that is near optimum.

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