Analysis Of Joseph Conrad 's ' Heart Of Darkness ' Essay

Analysis Of Joseph Conrad 's ' Heart Of Darkness ' Essay

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Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad follows an unnamed narrator as he tells the story that a man named Marlow told him. Marlow takes a job where he is sent down to Congo, Africa and is the captain of a ship. The ship’s job is to travel along the river and give supplies to the different ivory camps, but along the way he hears about Mr. Kurtz and becomes enthralled with this mysterious man. All the while, Marlow is building up these expectations of what Kurtz will be like, only to be let down when he meets the man in the flesh. While Conrad certainly did make this novella historically accurate, he did chose to focus primarily on the idea of inhumanity and savages. Conrad actually inverts the common ideas of savagery and portrays the Europeans as the savages instead of the opposite. This theme can also be seen in the film adaptation of Apocalypse Now.
In the novella, when Marlow and his crew are traveling down the Congo River they are attacked by a group of natives, and the battle ends in a crew member getting killed from a spear through his torso. When the natives were shooting arrows at the ship the helmsman was “foaming at the mouth” (51) and “shaking an empty rifle and yelling at the shore” (52) before he was impaled. Marlow goes on to talk about how if the man had controlled himself more and restrained himself from shooting at the natives then he would not have been killed. The way Conrad depicts this man’s behavior is the same way he described the natives earlier in the text, which is interesting because the helmsman was seen as one of the “pilgrims” who was also on the ship, and the pilgrims were supposed to be the civilized ones on the boat.
The cannibals however, were the most civilized people on that boat, especially com...


... middle of paper ...


... the more civilized. Although Conrad was accused of being a racist, his novella points to certain perspectives where the white man was not always right, and that they were possible the savages for pushing their beliefs onto these natives. The inverted savagery between the natives and the Europeans could been seen as a statement about colonialism and how people tend to think higher of themselves than they actually are. But it could also be seen as Conrad making a statement about how the white man and the savage really are not that different from each other; they are only different through the perceptions of society and outside forces. The same is true for Apocalypse Now and war, as the people who are supposed to be protecting the innocent, actually end up doing more harm than good, and that both sides of the war really aren’t as different as some people like to think.

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