Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness is a novella written by Joseph Conrad in 1899. The book follows the story of Marlow, a sailor telling his travel into the depth of Belgian Congo through the use of retrospective narration. Though can be considered the main narrator, the story is told through the eye of an unnamed person present on the boat, a “frame narrator”, who listens to Marlow’s tale. Throughout the ages, Heart of Darkness has been illustrated as a night journey, a voyage into the subconscious as well as an initiation.

These elements are justifiable due to the number of examples relying on such definitions. Heart of Darkness has been recalled as a night journey. Indeed, the book describes the Marlow’s progression through the Congo in which he evolves from innocence and goodness to being familiar with the true nature of evil. Throughout the novel, the concept of darkness used to represent evil is represented metaphorically, literally as well as psychologically. The main characters of Heart of Darkness are Marlow and Kurtz.

Though both characters are different, they are both presented with similar mental and physical traits. In addition to the growth of man from innocence to familiarity with evil, it is possible to interpret the character of Kurtz as a representation of evil and Marlow as one of good. The night journey of the novel is described within Marlow’s character. Even before his departure to the Congo, Marlow says that Africa “had become a place of darkness”. With this, he shows the reader a sense of depravity towards the continent.

When later Marlow describes the river as a “mighty big river resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head at sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depth of the land” Conrad shows that the river is a symbol for the entrance to an unknown, mysterious place. The fact that Marlow says “the snake had charmed me” shows that it is men’s nature to become attracted to such newness. Another symbol used to represent the darkness are the two women knitting black wool.

The fact that they are “guarding the doors of Darkness, knitting the black wool as for a warm pall” is exemplary because the color black is usually connected to things that are dark and evil. Conrad’s use of these women, shows the importance he found to the Fates in Greek mythology, as they spin the threads of men’s lives Fates in Greek mythology, as they spin the threads of men’s lives, therefore determining their fate. As Marlow approaches the center of the river, the natives have a symbolic role as they are mistreated by the european colonizers. These evil acts are one of he first discoveries of Marlow.

This mistreatment of the naives by the colonizers is shown to be the product of their being under white control. This is notable when Marlow describes them for the first time as “deathlike indifference of unhappy savages”. In this quote, the natives are referred as savages who lack expression and therefore convey a “deathlike indifference”. Another notable way in which Marlow faces a night journey of evil and darkness is when he encounters with the dying natives. He describes them as “black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom.

” in which a connection between the “black shadows” and “gloom” is visible with darkness. Therefore Conrad’s uses the night journey in order to convey to the reader the truth about human nature and what is truly going on in the different colonies of the world. It is important to note that this message shared by Conrad in Heart of Darkness is a relatively new idea at the time as the information about the events during colonization were no really shared, such as the women not being told the truth, an element shown in the book through the use of the aunt character.

Finally, it seems that calling this book a “night journey”is legitimate as it is an element heavily used by Conrad to convey his opinion. Heart of Darkness has also been called a voyage into the subconscious. Indeed throughout the novel, Marlow follows the river with the enigma about humanity and the unclear vision between light and dark. This is a voyage into the depth of human mind, a voyage of self-discovery. Although Conrad uses Marlow to represent A journey though the Congo, his use of style shows that it means something much more profound.

Indeed in the novel, Marlow explores his subconscious through the use of retrospective narration. He came to the conclusion that work and duty are the elements that kept him on the boat, which is probably what saved his life away from the evil of the wilderness. Marlow has found the the natives’ behavior reflects on himself thus drawing him nearer from the wilderness. Therefore Marlow hides this inner truth behind a civilized belief as he calls the natives “ugly” marking a distance between him and them. Though Marlow tries to draw himself away from the truth of his relation with the natives, he still is aware that this “truth” is present.

This is shown as he states “the truth is hidden. Luckily, luckily. ” Throughout his journey, Marlow begins exploring Kurtz’s subconscious. Ever since he overheard the conspiracy between the manager and his uncle, he begins believing that Kurtz is a very intelligent man with very good ideas. Marlow becomes interested in the reason why Kurtz turned mad. During his quest, Marlow learns that Kurtz fallen into the wilderness because he did not find the strength to protect himself. Marlow states that Kurtz was”hollow at the core” which shows that Kurtz had no restraint and lacked belief.

In addition, while having the power of eloquence, he was not able to save himself. Kurtz can be called Marlow’s alter-ego since what happened to him could have happened to Marlow if he did not have his restraint, his work, his “external checks”. Finally, this novel has also been called and initiation since Marlow an Kurtz learn a lesson from his experience. During the novel, Marlow is initiated to darkness and evil by Kurtz. The whole initiation relies on a lie. Indeed the reason of his retrospective storytelling is to attempt to justify himself from the lie he told the intendent.

He believes that the lie was not an evil lie, but that it was of great importance since it relied on Kurtz’s last words. This shows that it is Kurtz who initiated him to darkness. However throughout the novel, he states that he discovered an inner truth himself, which would make Kurtz the final element of his joining evil. This book has be called a night journey, a voyage into the subconscious and an initiation since all of the main characters explore their self-knowledge. This is also why Conrad used retrospective narration to tell Marlow’s story.

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?The aim of this paper is to analyse the role of destiny in Conrad’s criticism of colonialism. We will avail ourselves of the two knitting women to explore the relationship between Marlow and destiny and, thus, discover the philosophical ideas …

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