The Importance Of The Congo River In Heart Of Darkness

1354 Words6 Pages
Darkness, in whatever form, exists in the hearts of all mankind no matter what race, religion, or background. When one is separated from their source, home, and culture, the darkness of their heart can often lead to displays of greed, madness, distortion, and evil. In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the author uses the Congo River as a symbol to show the importance of Interiors and Exteriors in Marlow’s journey and ultimately how he is able to resist the darkness within himself. It is apparent that the Congo River functions as the connection between Marlow and the one place that he truly feels at home – the Ocean. The Congo River and Charlie Marlow interestingly both share the same source, but in different ways. Marlow is portrayed as,…show more content…
The river permits him to gain access to the center of the African Continent without needing to physically traverse and penetrate it himself on land. This allows Marlow to remain a man that is constantly separated, external, and thus apart from his surroundings. During his journey through the great continent, Africa is virtually condensed to a sequence of two-dimensional scenes that pass by Marlow’s steam boat. He is separated from the scenes of Africa and thus makes himself an observer forced to form conclusions from the scenes that flash by his steamer on a constant basis. Yet the clear picture of an interior is never evident when one is given nothing but glimpses of exteriors which is exactly what Marlow is given. It is usually impossible and unsuccessful to judge the true nature of something simply from glances at the exteriors. Marlow is forced to define his whole opinion of the continent of Africa, native-savages, and European Imperialism from glances of their exteriors that he gets along the river of that is constantly separating him from what actually lies before his eyes. Conrad also uses the motif of fog and mist strongly throughout the novel which displays the obscuring and distortion of the truth – the interior of the situation. Much of what little Marlow is able to observe on his journey up the Congo…show more content…
Conrad contrasts Marlow from other characters to prove his role as the protagonist and shows that since he is a man of the sea and he always travels by river he never truly leaves his source. This is one of Marlow’s greatest strength’s due to the fact that it allows him to resist the darkness creeping up from inside his heart once he reaches Kurtz who has been separated from his own “home country” and culture and thus given into the madness residing inside his interior. Conrad shows how the grueling trip upstream reflects Marlow’s own inner struggles to understand the ideas and people of his surroundings, particularly Kurtz. He continues to convey how the rapid ease of the trip back downstream mirrors Marlow’s acceptance and understanding of Kurtz as well as the river’s repelling of Europeans and the evils of imperialism. Conrad demonstrates that the only way to defeat the darkness within the heart of mankind is by never losing connection with one’s source or
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