Joseph Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness, follows the narration of Marlow, a former steamship captain, and his journey deep into the Congo. As the novel begins, Marlow ponders the way in which the Romans saw a Celtic Britain. He imagines that they saw the now golden land as a dark, savage wilderness void of civilization and culture. He recounts the dreariness of the office the company interviews him in, and the strange old women, weaving wool dark as night in the Mariana Trench, whom he likens to the Fates. Following a trivial interview and disturbing physical examination, Marlow boards a ship, sails to the Congo, and begins a two hundred mile trek to the Central Station. As he travels he cannot help but notice the rot, destruction, and death caused by the ivory trade in the wilds of the Congo. As he journeys, he finds his company more and more aggravating, insolent, and uneducated and secludes into himself for comfort. Upon arrival at the Central Station, Marlow learns that his steamer sunk to the bottom of the river long ago and spends two months making repairs. During this time, the people of the station tell him much about the “first-class” agent Kurtz, the man that lives on the interior only reachable by the river and worshiped by many people, especially a Russian, who loses his mind to the wilds of Africa. The farther into the Congo Marlow travels, the further he withdraws into himself to hide from the avarice and debauchery which the station managers and “pilgrims” that travel with him so readily embrace. His only hope, Kurtz, remains elusive and mysterious. On his exodus to find Kurtz, Marlow encounters problems of every kind. From narrow river bends to attac...
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...ve light, a source for the evil of vacancy to seep into the human heart. The insanity of the Russian, the narcissistic post-traumatic stress disorder of Marlow, and the slow decay of Kurtz’s mind and body demonstrate a few ways that isolation can affect people. The characters of Victor Frankenstein and his monster represent further destruction that isolation causes, and Jesus presents us with the greatest positive good from isolation. While criticized as being incredibly racist, Joseph Conrad’s, Heart of Darkness, reveals a social critique on the days of imperialism, and provides a valuable lesson about isolation. When willingly undertaken, with the purpose of attaining enlightenment or peace, solitude brings positive effects to the human mind. However; when leapt into without forethought, isolation can bring destruction of sanity, morals, and even of the human body.
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- “He cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath– The horror. The horror!” (III, p. 178). There are many horrifying things in the world which are of all different orders of magnitude, from disasters that effect millions to insignificant fears of an individual: from catastrophes such as the holocaust to subtleties such as spiders. Conrad, in the Heart of Darkness shows each order, on it 's own level, all in one statement. The eminent Kurtz uttered the aforementioned quote as he was breathing his last, and incorporated all three levels of despair into his last two words.... [tags: Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, The Horror]
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