A Journey into Darkness in Heart of Darkness

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A Journey into Darkness in Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad, in his story, "Heart of Darkness," tells the

tale of two mens' realization of the dark and evil side of themselves.

Marlow, the "second" narrator of the framed narrative, embarked upon a

spiritual adventure on which he witnessed firsthand the wicked potential in

everyone. On his journey into the dark, forbidden Congo, Marlow encountered

Kurtz, a "remarkable man" and

"universal genius," who had made himself a god in the eyes of the natives

over whom he had an imperceptible power. These two men were, in a sense,

images of each other: Marlow was what Kurtz may have been, and Kurtz was

what Marlow may have become.

Like a jewel, "Heart of Darkness" has many facets. From one view it

is an exposure of Belgian methods in the Congo, which at least for a good

part of the way sticks closely to Conrad's own experience. Typically,

however, the adventure is related to a larger view of human affairs.

Marlow told the story one evening on a yacht in the Thames estuary as

darkness fell, reminding his audience that exploitation of one group by

another was not new in history. They were anchored in the river, where

ships went out to darkest Africa. Yet, as lately as Roman times, London's

own river led, like the Congo, into a barbarous hinterland where the Romans

went to make their profits. Soon darkness fell over London, while the

ships that bore "civilization" to remote parts appeared out of the dark,

carrying darkness with them, different only in kind to the darkness they


These thoughts and feelings were merely part of the tale, for Co...

... middle of paper ...

...ntempt to be a kind of moral heroism.

Works Cited

Adelman, Gary. Heart of Darkness: Search for the Unconscious. Boston: Little & Brown, 1987.

Bradley, Candice. "Africa and Africans in Conrad's Heart of Darkness." (24 Jan. 1996). Online Internet. 3 October 1998. Available: http://www.lawrence.edu/~johnson/heart.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. Ed. Robert Kimbrough. 17th ed. New York: Norton, 1988.

Levenson, Michael. "The Value of Facts in the Heart of Darkness." Nineteenth-Century Fiction 40 (1985):351-80.

Rosmarin, Adena. "Darkening the Reader: Reader Response Criticism and Heart of Darkness." Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism. Ed. Ross C. Murfin. New York: St. Martin's, 1989.

Watt, Ian. Conrad in the Nineteenth Century. San Diego: U. of California P, 1979. 168-200, 249-53.

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