When writers write, it is often to convey a deeper meaning or truth to it readers. With this in mind, we should first take the book at face value then analysis the story to see the point that the writer revels. In The Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad does this very well. The story goes from what we originally thought as just a story of a journey into Africa to a story of indeed a journey to the hearts of men. Conrad’s truth in The Heart of Darkness is multi-layered in dealing with imperialism and colonialism, but leads us to a critique of humanity as a whole. The biggest issue that Conrad shows in this book, is his philosophy of the dark nature of man. This paper will explore the evidence for the nature of man theory and then look at the proposed solution subtlety given by Conrad.
Darkness is a huge motif in The Heart of Darkness. Almost every other page is filled with some imagery relating to the dark or low visibility. It is well known in literature that darkness has negative connotations. The dark is associated with dirtiness, ignorance, and death. Being in the dark is not a good place to be, however, this is where Conrad places us.
The story starts out with a man re-telling the story of Charles Marlow and his trip to Africa. Africa at the time is a place where many European countries staked out land and riches while trying to “enlighten” the people they conquered. Marlow commands a boat with the hopes of going into the interior of Africa to retrieve a Mr. Kurtz. As they go farther and farther into the “wild” mainland, the more the characters true character comes out. Marlow is disgusted by the ambitions of the Manager and a lot of the crew members. He begins to anticipate and perhaps idolize Kurtz as this ama...
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... this. However, he point to the answer in Kurtz’s last words, “The horror! The horror!” (Conrad, 85). Kurtz’s in his last moments seem to realize the darkness that was inside of him. He might have realized his own irony of him trying to bring enlightenment to suppress the savagery that he thought existed in the Africans, only to find that it existed within him as well. And with that Kurtz does not deceive himself like so many other characters in the book who are ignorant of this deep, dark nature, either willfully or not.
This book is a well thought out critique of how high we hold ourselves as human beings. Conrad takes a Hobbesian like approach giving us clues to what he believes about human nature. Unlike Hobbes, however, laws for the control of nature of man is only a band aid for the problem that faces the deep problem the underlines Conrad’s whole book.
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