The novella, Heart of Darkness (1899), written by Joseph Conrad, is one big metaphor for the insatiable desire for land and commodity of Imperialist Europe. The protagonist is Charlie Marlow, a steamer captain during the Scramble to Africa, tells his crew of his travels into the heart of Africa, up the Congo River to an ivory trading station, deep within the impenetrable forest of Congo. He is trying to get to Mr. Kurtz- a lead ivory exporter of the area. Praising this mysterious authoritarian figure, Marlow is transformed by what he witnesses. The covetous, primal nature of selfishness is within all, and is conveyed in Heart of Darkness by the greed of ivory, commodity and power. In Heart of Darkness, all characters have an intense need to covet a certain thing. The Harlequin worships Kurtz, Kurtz cares about ivory more than his own life, and Marlow essentially craves Kurtz, however, in a different way than the Harlequin.
Kurtz’s disciple, The Harlequin, is a blind follower of Kurtz who views him as a god. “The glamour of youth enveloped [the Harlequin’s] parti-coloured rags, his destitution, his loneliness… (101-102), meaning he’s never been a rich man, therefore he’s likely uneducated and more likely to be an even greater disciple of Kurtz by not seeing the man’s true selfishness. The Harlequin worships Kurtz. He finds a way to justify and praise everything Kurtz has done to him or anyone else, because he has such a passion for him. “He wanted to shoot me too one day,” the Harlequin tells Marlow, “but I don’t judge” (104). For the Harlequin, this is a fair gesture in his head, for after all, the Harlequin tells Marlow that Kurtz has "enlarged my mind” (100). The Harlequin views Kurtz so highly that he finds a way to justify h...
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The desperate need for material and commodity have enough power to drive people to the edge of rapacity, as seen in Heart of Darkness. Greed and voracious hunger of the white man show when they start exploring Africa. All characters in the novella, whether or not if they got what they coveted most, are forever changed by the end of their journey. Although the Harlequin didn’t get what he wanted, he was not near the same person as he was before he met Kurtz. Marlow and Kurtz both end up getting what they want, The former wanting Kurtz and the latter wanting precious ivory. The novella is a metaphor for life and possession: all of the characters in Heart of Darkness are possessed by possession, or what they crave most. Ultimately, they stop acting with autonomy and are addicted to commodity. This ends up either destroying the character or making them disappear.
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