The Theme Of Time, Identity And Power In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

1022 Words5 Pages
In Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” there are many themes. Some themes include time, identity, and power. Each theme of “Heart of Darkness” helps lead into the next theme, as well as help Marlow narrate his story. The themes of time, identity, and power are the three most important themes of “Heart of Darkness”. The theme of time is portrayed throughout the whole story of “Heart of Darkness”. At the beginning of “Heart of Darkness” Conrad starts out with a group of seaman on a ship called the Nellie at rest, the start of the theme of time, “ The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without flutter of the sails, and was at rest. The flood had made, the wind was nearly calm, and being bound down the river, the only thing for it was…show more content…
Before Marlow became a seaman, as an adult, he knew that part of his identity involved travel and escapades to the unknown, “ Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration,” (Conrad 255). This quotation may not reveal who Marlow right away, but by knowing he had a passion for maps, and looked at hours at different countries, we can analyze that Marlow had the sense of adventure as a child. As that young child Marlow found his identity by sense of travel, “ At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting on a map ( but they all look that) I would put my finger on it and say, When I grow up I will go there,” (Conrad 255). From this we are able to glimpse who Marlow will most likely become, an adventurer, set to travel the world. As time passed and Marlow grew, his identity changed for the better. Unlike Marlow’s identity Kurtz’s identity did not change for the better, but for the worse, “ I seemed to hear the whispered cry, ‘ The horror! The horror!’,” (Conrad 306). With this quotation we are able to catch a glimpse of Kurtz’s life, part of his identity. These are his last words, but with these words you can tell that Kurtz realizes that what he has done in life is not good, but awful. Conrad…show more content…
Some might say that the more power you have, the better off you are, but this is not always the case. Even though Marlow did not have a lot of power, he was happy doing what he loved, and had much more respect than many of the other on the crew. Kurtz on the other hand, had a lot of power, but received little respect. Ivory was the power source for Kurtz, “ I had a small lot of ivory the chief of that village near my house gave me….. Well, he wanted it, and wouldn’t hear reason. He declared he would shoot me unless I gave him the ivory and then cleared out of the country, because he could do so, and had a fancy for it, and there was nothing on earth to prevent him killing whom he jolly well pleased,” ( Conrad 292-293). With this quotation, we can see not only Kurtz’s identity, but his obsession with Ivory, his power source. The Ivory is his power source, because he thrives for it, and it gives him power. The source of Marlow’s power though is not from greed, but from the work that he does, not only alone, but with the help of a cannibal crew member. It may not seem that Marlow is showing a lot of power, though if you look closely you can see that, his power is bigger and brighter than Kurtz’s, big and darker power. Even while he is telling the story about, Kurtz and the Congo, his listeners respect him, and his

More about The Theme Of Time, Identity And Power In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

Open Document