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Darkness, Ambiguity, and Destruction in Joseph Conrad´s Heart of Darkness

Good Essays
Joseph Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness, is told in a narrative frame, which is one of the contributions to the complexity of the novel. Conrad employs an unknown narrator who tells the outside picture and Marlo, who tells the inside picture of the novel. Marlow narrates the darkness of the novel as he ventures of into the Congo River as an employee for “The Company” where he collects ivory and meets Kurtz. Upon Marlo’s adventure Conrad employs an extension of incredibly ambiguous, as well as blatantly obvious symbols. Conrad’s usage of symbols exemplifies the pervasiveness of darkness, ambiguity, and a destructive factor of colonization.

The novel begins and ends with a dark ominous setting aboard the Nellie. “And this also,” said Marlow suddenly, "has been one of the dark places of the earth" (Heart of Darkness pg. 65). Here Marlow underlines England right before he part takes in his tale about the Congo. Next Marlo illustrates the overture of his journey, “The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much” (Heart of Darkness pg. 67). This highlights Conrad’s idea that colonizing can be alluring but in the end discrimination takes place, which evidently leads to destruction.

Conrad exploits various symbols to underline the pervasiveness of darkness. The ivory that Marlow collects for “The Company” embodies gluttony for the destructive nature of man kind. “The Company‘s” only concern and hope is to gain endless amounts of ivory, thus leading them to forget about their ethics and their so called plans about civilizing the natives.

Not only does “The Company contribu...

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...’s] soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself and, by heavens I tell you, it had gone mad. (Heart of Darkness pg. 66). This reveals that Kurtz’s dark side because he no longer is content with himself being a human being or mortal, therefore converting into no longer feels satisfied with just being a mere mortal, so instead transforms himself into a godlike or supreme human. At last, Kurtz's inclination into madness is thoroughly stabilized when he shrieks, "The horror! The horror!"( Heart of Darkness pg. 107).

All in all, Joseph Conrad utilizes symbols to acknowledge and communicate to his audience. Through the complexity of diction and syntax Conrad clearly manifests the pervasiveness of darkness, ambiguity, and the destructive factor of civilization.

Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: Penguin, 1999. Print.
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