Chaos Theory Portrayal In Heart Of Darkness

Chaos Theory Portrayal In Heart Of Darkness

Length: 1125 words (3.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
In Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, the strongest conflict is an internal conflict that is most prominently shown in Marlow and Kurtz. This conflict is the struggle between their image of themselves as civilized human beings and the ease of abandoning their morality once they leave society. This inability has a close resemblance to the chaos theory. This is shown through the contrast of Kurtz as told by others and the actuality of him and through the progression of Marlow's character throughout Heart of Darkness.
Dictionary.com defines chaos theory as the phenomenon of unpredictable and complex dynamic systems that are highly sensitive to small changes in external conditions. In Heart of Darkness, the difference in input is Africa and the absolute power found there. "Absolute power corrupts", not so much from the power, but from becoming the only judge of your actions. Without an external controlling source, a human is likely to run to a more primitive source of control--human instinct.
Kurtz was first introduced to us as "a first-class agent" (Heart of Darkness, 29) and "a very remarkable person"(29) by the chief accountant. He was shown to be a painter and a poet with "moral ideals" (51) that ruled his life. Everyone who really knew him revered his opinions and words. "You don't talk with that man-- you listen to him." (90) All this points to a very moral and upstanding gentleman who follows the edicts of society to the bitter end.
The man we meet deep in the Congo isn't the same man. He isn't civilized or truly respectable anymore. At this point, he had gone mad. He had the heads of "rebels" (97) on posts around his house, staring at his home. "He [Kurtz] hated all this, and somehow he couldn't get away." (95) Kurtz had two opposing sensibilities. The one said that he should leave and return to civilization and his fiancée while escaping the sickness that seemed to pervade that jungle for all Europeans. The other sensibility was more basic. It was a growl for absolute power over the lives of the natives and also the material want for more ivory. He couldn't escape this hunger. Even at the end of his life when he has been carried onto the ship and is happy to leave, he tries to break away from this decision and return to the jungle.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Chaos Theory Portrayal In Heart Of Darkness." 123HelpMe.com. 06 Dec 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=161110>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Chaos Theory

- Chaos Theory      What exactly is chaos theory. From the understanding of many scientists such as Edward Lorenz, Ian Stewart, and Robert May the chaos theory relatively means the same thing. Each of these scientists contributed to the science of chaos theory.      First and Foremost chaos theory itself comes from the seemingly half-hazard way things seem to happen in its equations, but chaos theory is really about finding the similarities between these seemingly random events in an equation.      Edward Lorenz, a meteorologist, discovered this theory when he was working on a calculation for weather prediction on his computer....   [tags: Science Scientists Chaos Theory Essays]

Research Papers
1509 words (4.3 pages)

Essay on Chaos Theory

- Chaos Theory      Since its inception, science relied on predictability and order. The true beauty of science was its uncanny ability to find patterns and regularity in seemingly random systems. For centuries the human mind as easily grasped and mastered the concepts of linearity. Physics illustrated the magnificent order to which the natural world obeyed. If there is a God he is indeed mathematical. Until the 19th century Physics explained the processes of the natural world successfully, for the most part....   [tags: Science Chaos Essays]

Research Papers
1962 words (5.6 pages)

Portrayal of Light and Darkness through Characters in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

- In the novella Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad uses many literary devices to create, for his readers, a vivid picture of what his definition of light and darkness really is. Conrad suggestively uses a technique whereas for every one character that portrays darkness there is an opposite character that portrays some extent of light. This technique can be explained in the form of comparison and contrast, for instance the “Harlequin” and the Manager. Though these two characters share few comparisons, their contrasts are one in a plenty....   [tags: heart of darkness]

Research Papers
788 words (2.3 pages)

Explaining the Chaos Theory Essay

- Chaos Theory Chaos theory is a modern development in the math and science field to provide a frame work for understanding the irregular fluctuations in nature. Chaos is typically defined as mathematical property of the dynamic system. The study of their dynamics is an essential part of the growing science of complexity. There are some examples that explained what the chaos theory is like “the butterfly effect” and the “pendulum swing” that show an erratic behavior of the chaos theory. To understand the chaos theory’s principles of that underlie pattern of all real systems; they research from the ecosystems to the social systems to the universe as a whole....   [tags: unpredictable, butterfly effect, system]

Research Papers
1025 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on Chaos Theory and You

- We live in a world that we can consider, for the most part, fairly predictable. For example, I can say with confidence, that if someone does not study for a test, they will not do as well on the test than if they had studied. But what if that wasn’t always the case. What if nothing had a set outcome and every possible outcome was ‘fair game’. This is Chaos Theory. Chaos Theory is the study of dynamic systems that are highly dependent on their initial conditions (abarim). There are several systems so dependent on their initial conditions that even a rounding error in an equation will send it spiraling out of control – they are considered part of the Butterfly Effect (stsci)....   [tags: Philosophy ]

Research Papers
1566 words (4.5 pages)

Essay on Portrayal of Women in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

- Portrayal of Women in Heart of Darkness       In his novel, Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad exposes the evil lurking in the soul of mankind; but this corruption is hidden from the innocent European women. Conrad?s novel depicts women simplistically in black and white . without any confusing shades of gray. There are the innocent white European women who must -- for society's sake -- be misinformed, and the black African she-beast . the antithesis to civilization's order.   Those exposed to the corruption either embrace the wickedness, as does Kurtz, or resist it and become enlightened.  But the innocent European women swallow the lies of the colonial administration....   [tags: HOD Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness]

Research Papers
876 words (2.5 pages)

Essay about The CHAOS Manifesto

- The CHAOS Manifesto 2012 is a compilation of view on global project statistics specifically concentrated on the United States and Europe. The report is based on four Standish Services: the CHAOS knowledge center, DARTS (Demand Assessment Requirements Tracking Survey), Executive Sponsor Workshops and Executive Interviews. Although the manifesto concentrates on statistics primarily whereas, the 2012 report talks about the various success factors of an executive sponsor as leadership plays a crucial role in deciding the success or failure of a project....   [tags: CHAOS Manifesto 2012]

Research Papers
1363 words (3.9 pages)

Essay on Darkness and the Agents of Chaos in Shakespeare's Macbeth

- In "Macbeth" William Shakespeare employs his skills in imagery and symbolism.  The landscape of "Macbeth" reveals the contours of the title character's psychological turmoil.  Churning with self-doubt about his determination, his ability to connect word and act, and his sexual potency, Macbeth is a man at the mercy of his environment.  The inability to sleep is symbolic of a tormented soul and represents a character's control over their lives.  The imagery of darkness in Act 4 is used to describe the agents of disorder.   Within "Macbeth" Shakespeare demonstrates imagery and symbolism through Macbeth's self-doubt, his inability to connect word and act, sexual potency, sleep, and darkness....   [tags: GCSE English Literature Coursework]

Research Papers
1384 words (4 pages)

Essay on Chaos Theory

- Missing Figures CHAOS The word “chaos,” an enigmatic part of the vernacular, means a state without order, or the opposite of “cosmos,” an ordered state. Mathematical chaos is instability and unpredictability, often seen in nature due to its sensitivity to the random disturbances that commonly occur. This is known as determinism; previous events heavily influence future events, and small changes eventually lead to larger variations. Philosophically, chaos theory implies that everything is connected; our past actions impact our future....   [tags: Mathematics Math]

Research Papers
1963 words (5.6 pages)

Essay on Chaos Theory Explained

- Chaos Theory Explained “Traditionally, scientists have looked for the simplest view of the world around us. Now, mathematics and computer powers have produced a theory that helps researchers to understand the complexities of nature. The theory of chaos touches all disciplines.” -Ian Percival, The Essence of Chaos Part I: The Basics of Chaos. Watch a leaf flow down stream; watch its behavior within the water… Perhaps it will sit upon the surface, gently twirling along with the current, dancing around eddies, slightly spinning, then all of a sudden, it slaps into a rock or gets sucked beneath the water by a small whirlpool....   [tags: Papers]

Research Papers
2254 words (6.4 pages)


The progression of Marlow from the beginning to the end is not as dramatic, but it is still an insight into the reaction of human minds to a lack of ‘good' guidance. In the beginning, Marlow makes statements that give him a kinship with the Africans. "…this also…has been one of the dark places of the earth."(6) and when he is talking to his aunt about the ignorant millions, Marlow states that she made him "quite uncomfortable"(9). This seems to give him the air of being above thinking of Africans as savages or infidels. He may not consider them to be his equal, but they are not so far beneath him. On his voyage into the jungle he is hit by the strength of the African's but he also acknowledges that he will become accustomed to their treatment. "I foresaw that in the blinding sunshine of that land I would become acquainted with a flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly"(25). He speaks of the men who become less formidable when pretending to civilize a group of people while actually feeding on their toil and pain.
Marlow slowly changes from that man of knowledge to a man of the African jungle. He was thrilled by "the thought of their humanity-- like yours-- the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar. Ugly."(59). This excerpt shows that Marlow is becoming more confused between who he was and who he could be. Then the lines become even more blurred and Marlow seems to forget what he used to be. He refers to his helmsman as "an improved specimen" and "to look at him was as edifying as seeing a dog in a parody of breeches and a feather hat, walking on his hind-legs."(61). He feels he is training this dog of his to be of better use whereas before he entered the Congo, he felt some kinship to these people. More kinship than to call them a "fool-nigger"(76) when they attempt to protect themselves with a gun.
In the end, he sides with Kurtz. It's not clear whether he is simply choosing Kurtz's method of honest evil over the company's ruse of civilization or if he truly believes in what Kurtz was doing. "Nevertheless I think Mr. Kurtz is a remarkable man" (105) influences the thought that he supports Kurtz's methods. Kurtz's method of holding a gun to a man's head in order to take their ivory. Kurtz's method of beheading ‘rebels' and posting their heads about his house. Kurtz's method of intimidating the local populace into believing that he is a god. This is what Marlow is calling a good method; coming from a ‘remarkable man'. This image is at odds with the person we are first introduced to.
Joseph Conrad portrays these two characters in very similar ways. They both were very educated men with definite constructs of power. Both come from countries with a King, or Queen depending on the era, and are subordinate to someone. When they leave Europe, these constructs are left behind. They enter a new society where men rule by strength of will or strength of weaponry. The freedom of this comes at a cost. Human minds are fallible-- it is very difficult to find a person who always has the right answer for a problem and the right method to reach that answer. So when a person can make the laws in whatever way they deem right, they can suffer from megalomania as Kurtz does.
In these two cases-- and a few others including a Swede who hung himself and Fresleven who unpredictably started to beat a native over a pair of chickens-- an unpredictable result occurred in seemingly normal men who were subjected to Africa. Few people can picture themselves letting go of a paradigm for living to become what Kurtz and Marlow ultimately become. They are the unpredictable outcome of a dynamic system. Conrad chose to display this side of human nature to expose the underlying necessity of a society and control.
Return to 123HelpMe.com