Heart of Darkness: Analysis of the Two Major Themes

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In the novel Heart of Darkness, there are several themes including Good versus Evil, Power, Femininity, and Fate. Two themes are further prevalent and significant. These themes are restraint and identity. They are the two most noteworthy themes in the book because both capitalize on the complexity and flaws of human nature. The value of restraint is stressed throughout Heart of Darkness. On one hand, Marlow is saved by his self-discipline while on the other hand; Kurtz is doomed from his lack of it. Before Marlow embarked on his voyage to Africa, he had a different view. Due to propaganda, he believed that the colonization of the Congo was for the greater good. In his head, he judged that the people of Africa were savages and that colonization would bring them the elation and riches of civilization. Despite an apparent uneasiness, he assumed that restraint would function there. When he reaches the Company station, he obtains his first astonishment. Everything seems worthless. Marlow finds no evidence of any devotion to efficiency but finds what he considers a miracle among the disorder. This “miracle” is the chief accountant. The reason Marlow finds this man so phenomenal is because he shows restraint. He maintains his appearance and his books are in “apple-pie order.” Marlow finds respect for this complete stranger because this chap shows backbone and self-discipline. Later, Marlow encounters cannibals who are characterized by restraint. They outnumber the whites “thirty to five” and were “big powerful men, with not much capacity to weigh the consequences.” Marlow describes them as being utterly capable of simply overpowering and consuming the Europeans. He even considers that he would have as soon expected such restraint fro... ... middle of paper ... ... identity grow to be intertwined. Interestingly, Marlow and Kurtz are very comparable and several parallels can be drawn between them, yet their fates differentiate in the end. Kurtz’s fate is due to his lack of restraint but Marlow’s restraint only saves his life for the time being. They were both exposed to the dark side of human nature and both eventually realized that the real heart of darkness is buried in the inside of every individual. Works Cited "How Does Marlow (in Heart of Darkness) Try to Find Himself? - Yahoo! Answers." Yahoo! Answers - Home. Web. 23 Mar. 2011. . "SparkNotes: Heart of Darkness: Themes, Motifs & Symbols." SparkNotes: Today's Most Popular Study Guides. Web. 23 Mar. 2011. .
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