The dark fog that the ship passes through leads to an ambush ordered by Kurtz. The heart of darkness is referenced several times in the novel as the center of Africa. The closer and closer Marlow got to the heart of darkness the more evil emerged. Another symbol is the river. The river seems to want to dispel the Europeans from the land.
In this paper, I would like to examine how Conrad's Heart of Darkness has played an important role in exposing the brutal reality of Belgian colonialism of the Congo Free State under the pretence of a civilizing mission . The study focuses on how historicizing Conrad's Heart of Darkness has been instrumental in uncovering atrocities committed by King Leopold II's agents in their desperate scramble for the rich resources of Congo like ivory and rubber. King Leopold II's atrocities may account for the death of almost ten million Congolese natives, a crime of a genocidal scale which has terribly affected the future of the Congo and its people till today. Conrad renders his own anti colonial critique through his central character,
The Novella Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is about an Ivory agent, Marlow, who is also the narrator of his journey up the Congo River into the heart of Africa. Marlow witnesses many new things during his journey to find Mr. Kurtz. In Apocalypse Now, the narrator is Captain Willard, who is also on a journey to find Kurtz. The Kurtz in the movie however is an American colonel who broke away from the American army and decided to hide away in Cambodia, upon seeing the reality of the Vietnam War. The poem “The Hollow Men” talks about how humans’ “hollowness” affects their lives and often leads to the destruction of one’s life.
Darkness governs almost everything in the novel. The secluded and harsh attitudes Europeans held towards the native’s increases the darkness throughout the novel. Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, is based on the historical period of imperialism in order to describe Marlow’s struggle. Marlow is asked by "the company", the organization who he works for, to travel to the Congo River and report back to them about Mr. Kurtz, a top notch officer of theirs. When he first sets sail, he doesn't know what to expect.
Under that motivation he finds a post for a European trading company to take a steamboat to the center of Africa. When he arrives at the mouth of the river he sees African men who have been enslaved and put to work. While there, Charles hears of and becomes obsessed with meeting a man named Kurtz who had previously gone into the jungle to find ivory and had ideas of “taming” the African people and bringing European civilization to African people who were considered to be savages. Charles undertakes the treacherous journey only to find that Kurtz’s ideas had failed and he had become a savage himself. Kurtz had been seen as a God by one tribe and had begun raiding surrounding villages for ivory and participated in brutal and savage practices.
An influential aunt in obtains an position as captain of a Congo steamer for Marlow. But when he arrives at the Company's Outer Station in Africa, he's faced with a horrible display of black slavery and white greed and hostility. In a shady grove he discovers a crew of sickly African workers that have crawled away to die. He also meets the Company's chief accountant, who mentions a man named Kurtz who is a remarkable agent that has sent more ivory from the jungle than the other agents combined. Marlow's interest is perked in Kurtz and will eventually grow into an unhealthy obsession and become the focus of the story.
On the way up to the Congo, he “passed through several abandoned villages” (Conrad 17). He felt “the silent wilderness surrounding this cleared speck on the earth struck him as something great and invincible” (Conrad 20). He went through three stations of his company: Outer Station, Central Station, and Inner Station. He saw the despicable behavior of the European traders had done to the Africa natives, only for ivory. Marlow presented with this unseen violence in the cruel suffering of the indigenous Congolese.
The title of Joseph Conrad's novella "Heart of Darkness" refers both to the depths of the Dark Continent of Africa, which the story's narrator Marlow is looking for the mysterious trader Kurtz, and to the corrupt heart of Kurtz . The story's most puzzling aspect is the way Kurtz changes, after only a few years in the African jungle, from a commitment in helping the African natives to a alterative motive just to exploit the Africans. However, as Conrad demonstrates, the changes Kurtz undergoes have as much to do with the foundations of the colonialism as they do with the corruption of one man. Heart of Darkness refer to the inner circle of hell. Literally, the title refers to the darker continent of Africa,especially Congo.
The theme of madness is prevalent in both the novella and the film, particularly evident in the scene of the natives' attack, and is used to emphasize the negative effects of imperialism. Firstly, imperialism is explored in Heart of Darkness by the European colonization in Africa along the Congo River. Similarly, Apocalypse Now explores imperialism by the U.S intervention in Vietnam during the Cold War. With these events as the historical backdrops in both texts, Marlow and Willard travel up a river and journey from comfort and safety, toward the insane Kurtz, who is a symbolic result of imperialism: a completely mad man. In their respective journeys, the protagonists and crew members slowly fall into madness themselves as they travel closer to Kurtz.
Conrad uses darkness to symbolize the journey into the heart of humanity. When Marlow first begins his story, he uses darkness to physically describe the Congo, but darkness later takes on an ambiguous meaning. Marlow sees darkness represented in the European 's cruelty to the innocent Africans. For example, when he sees the heads on the poles outside of Kurtz 's hut or the natives under the tree being forced to act like animals simply to drink water (Conrad). Humanity is inherently evil, and this only increases when they are removed from civilization and God.