My Account
Preview
Preview

The Major Themes of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay

No Works Cited
Length: 1290 words (3.7 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Purple      
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The two major themes of Heart of Darkness are the conflict between “reality” and “darkness,” and the idea of restraint and whether or not it is necessary. Conrad’s passage describing the restraint of the hungry cannibals exemplifies both themes:  It describes how reality shapes human behavior, and contrasts the characters of Kurtz and Marlow.  “Reality,” as it is used here, is defined as “that which is civilized.”

       Conrad emphasizes the idea of what is real versus what is “dark,” what is civilized versus what is primitive, what colonizes versus what is colonized, repeatedly throughout Heart of Darkness.  As stated above, “real,” in this case, contains all the implications of a civilized society:  clothing which covers a person’s sexual organs, restraint from gluttony, a constant reliance on clocks as dictators of action, etc.  The cannibals in the aforementioned passage face a horrendous conflict between what is real and what is “dark,” or, in their case, what is natural and what must be restrained.  Marlow cannot fathom how these “big powerful men, with not much capacity to weigh the consequences” could restrain their desires to consume him and the pilgrims:  “Restraint!  What possible restraint?  Was it superstition, disgust, patience, fear – or some kind of primitive honor?  No fear can stand up to hunger, no patience can wear it out.”  The “darkness” these men restrain is the part of every person that wants fulfillment, the Id in psychoanalytic terms, the part almost every orthodox religion looks down upon.  Along with every civilized society, one which requires some form of government, the citizens are expected to restrain, to a certain extent, their most basic desires.  This theme can be taken a step farther, and c...


... middle of paper ...


...ssage describing the cannibals exemplifies both.  The cannibals are practicing a sort of enigmatic restraint that keeps them from fulfilling a basic human need; on a second level, they are facing the issue of what is reality (what is civilized) versus what is natural.  Although there is no concrete evidence that these peoples are cannibalistic, the natural solution to their hunger is to eat, and they do not.  Marlow, the character symbolic of the reality of civilization, practices this restraint, a sort of religious emulation of what he has seen of civilized peoples up to this point.  Kurtz, on the other hand, has abandoned his restraint, has stepped into the “darkness” so to speak.  “The horror! The horror!” he utters on his deathbed, perhaps expressing contempt at his own actions, perhaps at all existence.  Perhaps at the reality and restraints of civilization. 


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper








This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
Essay about Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness - Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad, like many authors, used his own experiences for the basis of his novels. Specifically, Conrad’s journey on the Congo River as captain of a West African river steamer formed the basis for his novel Heart of Darkness. In this novel, the narrator of the story, Marlow, Conrad's protagonist, travels up the Congo in search of Kurtz, an ivory trader, and eventually ends up in the “heart of darkness.” Conrad also used his pessimistic view of life for the basis of Heart of Darkness....   [tags: Essays Papers]
:: 1 Works Cited
582 words
(1.7 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad Essay - Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness presents two main themes, which are relevant to the story. The first of which is imperialism and the second is racism. This novel takes place in the late 1800's on the Congo River in Africa, which Conrad uses to help illustrate these two themes. Charlie Marlow, the main character, is a sea captain whose exploration leads him to Africa on a freshwater navigation. Marlow's journey from the continent of Europe to the continent of Africa was quite a difference. The well-developed land of Belgium compared to the primitive society along the Congo played a big part in Marlow's view of racism....   [tags: Papers] 472 words
(1.3 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
A Comparison of Lord of the Flies by William Golding to Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - A Comparison of Lord of the Flies by William Golding to Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad Works Cited Missing I compared the novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding to Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. The novels contain a great deal in common and the similarities between these two novels begin with their authors....   [tags: Papers] 1599 words
(4.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Symbolism in Conrad's Heart Of Darkness Essay - Joseph Conrad’s use of light and darkness to represent good and evil in the Heart of Darkness helps in developing the theme and the plot of the novel. Conrad uses the symbol of light and darkness repetitively throughout the novel in order to disclose his insight to the reader; Conrad uses light and darkness when referring to the Thames and Congo river, the skin color and hearts of the whites and blacks, and the black mistress and the Intended. Conrad’s use of light and darkness is evident from the opening of the novel....   [tags: essays research papers] 663 words
(1.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Symbols and Symbolism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay - Use of Symbolism in Heart of Darkness     Joseph Conrad played a major role in the development of the twentieth-century novel.  Many devices that Conrad applied for the first time to his novels gained wide usage in the literary period he helped to create.  Perhaps the most effective of his pioneering techniques was his application of symbolism in his novels.  In Heart of Darkness, Conrad's symbolism plays a dominant role in the advancement of themes in the novel.  These themes are revealed not through plot, but instead through the symbolic characters and elements present in the narrative.  Joseph Conrad's use of symbolism in his portrayal of the Africans, the Company, and Kurtz in Heart o...   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
:: 4 Works Cited
1483 words
(4.2 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Character Growth in Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay - Character Growth in Conrad's Heart of Darkness          Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness explores the intellectual, emotional and moral growth of characters throughout the novella. This character growth has been a recurring theme in literature, with the poet William Blake, among many others, exploring theories of the movement between innocence to experience. Although Conrad does not strictly address character growth in this manner, characters that do and do not undergo psychological growth are portrayed quite differently....   [tags: Heart of Darkness Essays]
:: 5 Works Cited
2948 words
(8.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Examining Themes in Heart of Darkness Essay - Joseph Conrad wrote the book, Heart of Darkness, in 1898. He wrote this book touching on many different themes such as imperialism and commerce, darkness imagery, dream and nightmare, isolation, mental and physical illness, truth, and journey. Although all the themes are important to make Heart of Darkness complete, three prevail overall: imperialism and commerce, truth, and journey. Being the author of the book, Joseph Conrad had a personal connection to it. He took his own journey down the Congo River and like Marlow, said that as a child his dreams were to grow up and explore the heart of Africa....   [tags: European Literature] 853 words
(2.4 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay on Analysis of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - Analysis of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad When Joseph Conrad composed Heart of Darkness he created a literary masterpiece which embodied the essence of light contrasting with darkness. Throughout the novel Conrad constantly utilizes the images of light and dark and uses them to mold a vision, which the reader is then able to use to decipher the literal and metaphorical meanings of the novel. As Conrad said, “ my task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel- it is, before all, to make you see.” (Crankshaw 34) In Heart of Darkness Conrad makes the reader “see” by absorbing into every aspect possible of the book images of lightn...   [tags: Joseph Conrad Novels Literature Essays] 4388 words
(12.5 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad Marlow, an ordinary sailor with idealistic dreams, goes on a dark yet fascinating journey as a newly hired riverboat captain, traveling up the Congo River, seeking out the legendary chief of the Belgium trading company. When describing typical sites and events situated in the Congo, Joseph Conrad wrote "The Heart of Darkness" in a first person's view, with Marlow as the highlight character. As he writes on about Marlow's experiences, he portrays typical issues set in the time period of the late 1800's, such as slavery, trading and imperialism....   [tags: Joseph Conrad Heart Darkness] 1187 words
(3.4 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
Essay about Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent - Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent: A Critique of Late-Victorian Gender Roles February 15, 1894, was the most interesting afternoon in the otherwise dreary history of Greenwich Observatory. Earlier in the day, Martial Bourdin, a skinny anarchist, traveled by train from Westminster to Greenwich, concealing a small bomb. As he ominously ambled through Greenwich Park, towards the Observatory, something happened - no one knows exactly what - and he blew most of himself to shreds. The British, who loved to quantify in the late nineteenth century, noted that the explosion spread bits of flesh over a distance of sixty yards....   [tags: Joseph Conrad The Secret Agent]
:: 20 Works Cited
4961 words
(14.2 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]