Limited Restraint

626 Words3 Pages
People’s restraint can either save their lives or put them at great risk of dying. A person’s ability to restrain themself plays an important role when exploring the unknown. In the novel, Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, restraint plays a major role throughout the novel. Conrad uses restraint to show the corruption of the European culture and how people can change when faced with difficulties that challenge their restraint. By the end of the novel, Conrad shows restraint symbolizes civilization. Restraint threads its way through the three parts of Heart of Darkness; people who have been in chaos learn restraint, whereas people who have been in civilization cannot control themselves. Fresleven, the cannibals, the helmsman, and Kurtz all show restraint or the loss of restraint in the novel. Marlow’s story begins with him telling the story of Fresleven, a European who lost restraint and could not control himself. Fresleven, being born into civilization, never learned proper restraint. Fresleven, known as, “the gentlest, quietest creature that ever walked on two legs” (Conrad 6) shows how easy restraint can be lost. Freselven went mad because civilization never forced him to be restrained. Fresleven lost restraint because he went from the sophisticated society of Europe to the uncivilized, jungle of Africa. The people who grow up in the chaos and uncivilized jungle adapt to restraining themselves to survive. The Cannibals show a great deal of restraint because they have learned to control themselves. Days without food can darken the gentlest of minds, but somehow the cannibals restrain themselves from going mad. Joseph Conrad tries to show the reader how the cannibals have practiced restraint and it helps them survive. Any Euro... ... middle of paper ... ...ling blindly with itself” (61). Kurtz gives up by the end of the book. Kurtz has no more left to give, and has allowed himself to succumb to the chaos that engulfs him. The disorder and confusion of Africa has corroded Kurtz and has caused him to lose restraint. Joseph Conrad shows how easily people can lose their restraint. Only the cannibals, who Marlow expected to lose their restraint, restrain themselves from going mad when faced with starvation. Fresleven, the helmsman, and Kurtz show how “enlightened” people often lose their restraint first. “Civilized” people continue to lose restraint due to the chaos around them. The people who learn to adapt to the idea of restraint survive and the people born into the civilization of Europe did not know how to control themselves. Works Cited Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: Dover Publications, 1990. Print.

More about Limited Restraint

Open Document