Heart of Darkness. Editor Paul O’Prey. Middlesex: Penquin Books Ltd., 1983. Cox, C. B. Conrad: Heart of Darkness, Nostromo, and Under Western Eyes. London: Macmillan Education Ltd., 1987.
Watts, Cedric. A Preface to Conrad. Essex: Longman Group UK Limited, 1993.
The word is used time and time again throughout the text. Acknowledging restraint and the lack thereof in characters as the story progresses in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is paramount to any understanding of the work. The storyteller Marlow first believes that restraint is what separates civilization from chaos and society from savagery. As his journey into the heart of darkness progresses, however, he learns that such a conclusion is rash, and that there is far more to the matter than simply that. Literary critic Cedric Watts comments upon the ambiguity of the title of Heart of Darkness.
Any sense of restraint against the darkness that habituates in the natural world of man's uncivilized makeup is futile. Those that demonstrate restraint only emphasize existential nihilism as their actions result in meaninglessness. Through the characterization of Kurtz, the reader can witness a man who lacks restraint due to his acknowledgment of purposelessness, thus becoming a nihilistic hero. Marlow's search for such a man is the ultimate goal of the novel. It is then Conrad's goal to lead the reader through vagueness and pessimism to a conclusive void.
Editor Robert Kimbrough. New York: Norton, 1988. Guetti, James. 'Heart of Darkness and the Failure of the Imagination', Sewanee Review LXXIII, No. 3 (Summer 1965), pp.
C. B. Cox. Ruthven, K. K. ‘The Savage God: Conrad and Lawrence,’ Critical Quarterly, x, nos 1& 2 (Spring and Summer 1968), pp. 41-6. Ed. C. B. Cox.
Robert Kimbrough. New York: Norton Critical, 1988. Patrick Brantlinger, "Heart of Darkness: Anti-Imperialism, Racism, or Impressionism?" Criticism (Fall, 1985) 364.
Gekoski, R. A.. "Heart of Darkness." Modern Critical Interpretation: Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.