Facing the Dark Truth in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

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Facing the Dark Truth in Heart of Darkness Conrad’s Heart of Darkness has two major components: a candid look at the reality of imperialism, particularly in the Belgian Congo, and an exploration into the darkest depths of human existence. One symbolically dense part of the work occurs when Marlow and company are attacked on their journey into the 'heart of darkness' and towards Kurtz. The attack begins suddenly and each of the members of the company are forced to deal with this life intrusion in the way they see fit. The company-men immediately shoot their pistols into the brush. "The pilgrims had opened with their Winchesters, and were simply squirting lead into that bush. A deuce of a lot of smoke came up and drove slowly forward. I swore at it. Now I couldn't see the ripple or the snag either." The pilgrims shooting results in Marlow not being able to see the snag, and it doesn't even stop the attack, though the pilgrims are positively proud of themselves. "'Say! We must have made a glorious slaughter of them in the bush. Eh? What do you think? Say?' He positively danced, the bloodthirsty little gingery beggar. And he had nearly fainted when he saw the wounded man! I could not help saying, 'You made a glorious lot of smoke, anyhow.' I had seen, from the way the tops of the bushes rustled and flew, that almost all the shots had gone too high. You can't hit anything unless you take aim and fire from the shoulder; but these chaps fired from the hip with their eyes shut." I think this behavior of the pilgrims is representative of the imperialist movement as a whole. It was begun rashly from the hip with no real objectives, despite the claim that it was a movement civilizing the world. History and Hear... ... middle of paper ... ...g his craft through the river, on the watch for snags. There is enough surface-truth in this to occupy him fully and leave him no time to distinguish the nature of the 'little sticks' that are flying about. When it at length penetrates his consciousness that the sticks are arrows and that they are 'being shot at', he confronts the truth that is hidden in the dark depths..."(69-70). This almost sounds like "mind your own business," but I do not think it is quite that simple. Conrad is merely suggesting that one complete their "task at hand," but, when one is faced with something, they must be willing to face the dark truth and show restraint, as Conrad himself did. He had been to the Congo, which is what the book is based on, and showed restraint and came back alive. Staying within the restraints of society, he faced the dark truth and wrote a book about it.
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