(by: Purwarno, Faculty of English Literature, UISU, Medan, Indonesia. E-mail: email@example.com)
"Heart of Darkness" is the most famous of Joseph Conrad's personal novels: a pilgrim's progress for a pessimistic and psychological age. After having finished the main draft of the novel, Conrad had remarked, "Before the Congo, I was just a mere animal." The living nightmare of 1890 seems to have affected Conrad quite as importantly as the Andre Gide's Congo experience 36 years later. The autobiographical basis of the narrative is well known and its introspective bias obvious. This is Conrad's longest journey into self. But it would do well to remember that Heart of Darkness is also a sensitive vivid travelogue and a comment on "the vilest scramble for lost that ever disfigured the history of human conscience and geographical exploration." (Albert Gerard).
The novel thus has its important public side as an angry document on absurd and brutal exploitation. In the characters of Marlowe and Kurtz, we see one of the greatest of Conrad's many moments of compassionate rendering. Significantly, all that narrated has been gathered from the hinterland of Conrad's own experiences during his Congo exploration.
`Heart of Darkness' is a record of things seen and done. But also Conrad was reacting to the humanitarian pretences of some of the looters precisely as the novelist today reacts to the moralism of cold propaganda. Then it was ivory poured down from the heart of darkness, now it is uranium. Conrad shrewdly recognized an institution amply developed in Nostromo - that deception is most sinister when it becomes self-decept...
... middle of paper ...
...finds Kurtz's cabin empty, his secret sharer gone a part of himself, had vanished, "what made this emotion so overpowering was - how shall I define it..."
He follows the crawling Kurtz through the grass, comes upon him - "long, pale, indistinct like a vapour exhaled by the earth." When Marlow finds it hard to define the moral shock he received on seeing the empty cabin or when he says he does not know why he was jealous of sharing his experience we can take him literally, and in a sense be thankful for his uncertainty. `Heart of Darkness' takes us into a deeper region of the mind, quite similar to the psychic union between Legatt and his secret sharer in Conrad's short story, "The Secret Sharer." We ought to share F.R. Leavis, who emphasizes the fact that Conrad was probably staring at the devil when he transmuted his experiences into fictionalized form.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Racism in Heart of Darkness I find no elements of racism in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. I will admit that I began reading this with a little hesitation based on the fact that I do not like to read about human cruelty. However, after reading the story, I did not feel any negative feelings toward the story or author. I feel one must realize that the occurrences of this story were really happening. I do not feel that by the virtue of performing a task that one is hired to do makes one a racist.... [tags: HOD Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness]
587 words (1.7 pages)
- Strong Versus Weak Characters in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness One of the central tragedies of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is the insanity of Mr. Kurtz. How could a man who seemed so good, so stable, suddenly become so mentally lacking. Through the deterioration of Kurtz’s personality and Marlow’s response to his breakdown, Conrad explores the elements of strong versus weak characters. Conrad introduces Kurtz as the archetypal European. French mother, English father, educated all over the continent- he’s strikingly average.... [tags: Conrad Heart Darkness]
563 words (1.6 pages)
- Use of Symbolism in Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad played a major role in the development of the twentieth-century novel. Many devices that Conrad applied for the first time to his novels gained wide usage in the literary period he helped to create. Perhaps the most effective of his pioneering techniques was his application of symbolism in his novels. In Heart of Darkness, Conrad's symbolism plays a dominant role in the advancement of themes in the novel. These themes are revealed not through plot, but instead through the symbolic characters and elements present in the narrative. Joseph Conrad's use of symbolism in his portrayal of the Africans, the Company, and Kurtz in Heart o... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
1483 words (4.2 pages)
- ... Is it talking about darkness in the literal or figurative sense. Would we be considered naïve if we thought evil could be contained or is darkness a necessary evil we all posses and an undeniable part of our reality. Reality. Are we, the sentimental beings driven by passion, hope and emotional bonds ever able to cope with raw reality. Whether reality is there, sitting on a chair in front of us, looking at us right in the eye or whether reality hides itself under false pretense or human facade is irrelevant.... [tags: story analysis]
798 words (2.3 pages)
- Light and Dark in Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad's repeated use of darkness in his novel Heart of Darkness has been widely interpreted. Readers have arrived at many different conclusions about the use of darkness throughout the novel. The critics themselves cannot agree what the darkness means. The critics draw different conclusions about the use of darkness. For some critics, the use of darkness is seen as an intentional literary device. For example, Gary Adelman and Michael Levenson discuss the use of darkness and comment upon Conrad's purpose.... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
2293 words (6.6 pages)
- Heart of Darkness follows protagonist Charlie Marlow, a riverboat captain, as he relays the story of his time in the Congo to a group of men sitting around a camp fire. Marlow’s story revolves around his journey down the Congo River during the 1890s, and everything he experienced while there. The New Historicism lens lends itself particularly well to this text because of the various elements visible in it that were impacted by historical events. The economic, political, and social conditions of the Belgian Congo in the 1890s influenced the themes, characters, and narrative of the text, Heart of Darkness.... [tags: critique of European colonialism]
2483 words (7.1 pages)
- The Quest for Truth in Heart of Darkness Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is set in Africa's Congo region, and his descriptions of that place are stark yet full of the wonder of discovery as well as the shock that comes from uncovering ugly truths. Conrad was purposefully vague in his setting for Heart of Darkness; he never actually named the destination to which Marlow journeyed. This may be because Heart of Darkness was more an inner journey than a journey between places. Conrad juxtaposed his protagonist's inward quest with an outward journey through the wilderness of "dark" Africa.... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
2848 words (8.1 pages)
- Psychological, Philosophical and Religious Elements of Heart of Darkness Heart of Darkness is a kind of little world unto itself. The reader of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness should take the time to consider this work from a psychological point of view. There are, after all, an awful lot of heads and skulls in the book, and Conrad goes out of his way to suggest that in some sense Marlow's journey is like a dream or a return to our primitive past--an exploration of the dark recesses of the human mind.... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
897 words (2.6 pages)
- Historical, Sociological, and Philosophical Elements of Heart of Darkness An awareness of the historical, sociological, and philosophical climate prevalent during the time in which Heart of Darkness was written plays a key role in understanding the significance of Conrad's complex work. Joseph Conrad began work on Heart of Darkness in 1898 and completed it the following year in 1899. During this time the impressionist movement was in full swing, European colonization was at its peak, racial tensions were rapidly increasing, and man was confronted with the fall of the traditional view that held man as the eminent ruler the world.... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
1842 words (5.3 pages)
- "Heart of Darkness" is Conrad's journey to the Self/Autobiographical elements in the "Heart of Darkness" (by: Purwarno, Faculty of English Literature, UISU, Medan, Indonesia. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) "Heart of Darkness" is the most famous of Joseph Conrad's personal novels: a pilgrim's progress for a pessimistic and psychological age. After having finished the main draft of the novel, Conrad had remarked, "Before the Congo, I was just a mere animal." The living nightmare of 1890 seems to have affected Conrad quite as importantly as the Andre Gide's Congo experience 36 years later.... [tags: World Literature]
817 words (2.3 pages)