Essay on The Soul of Darkness in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

Essay on The Soul of Darkness in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

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Heart of Darkness: The Soul of Darkness

     "Heart of Darkness" The name itself implies a sense of unknown evil, and invokes thoughts of secrecy and mystery. Written by Joseph Conrad in 1902, "Heart of Darkness" tells of a physical journey down the Congo during its era of Imperialism, yet also of a mental sojourn into the core of insanity. It also paints paradoxes of seemingly clear concepts and states, such as the mental condition of central character Kurtz, an enigmatic ivory trader deep in the heart of the "Dark Continent."  Two of the characters provide insight into Kurtz's moral paradox.  The Intended views Kurtz as an emissary of light while Marlow views Kurtz as a god of darkness.


Marlow, though he only knew Kurtz for a short period of time, sees how far he had fallen into the Darkness. He was the madness of unrestrained lust personified. A critic once explained "Kurtz imitates the British 'idea' of the native; he 'goes native' within the darkness projected by the psyche itself"(McClure, 2). This is a mental process observed by many psychologists, and often compared to Freud's concept of the Id, Ego, and Superego. The expert, John A. McClure explained "The way the Subject views, and projects upon, an Other will yield a clue concerning the Subject's relationship to his unconscious wishes and desires...[and this is the place]...where the Subject does not recognize himself"(Meltzter, 158). McClure Affirmed this as he further stated "Kurtz psychologically identifies with the Other, the line between the Subject and the Object/Other thins out, finally dissolves, and he goes insane" (McClure, 2). As the "subject" psychologically projects the personality they wish to be, they become less and less what they are, a...

... middle of paper ...

... on by all the characters of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, he is portrayed vehemently as good by his intended, and equally forcefully as evil by his comrade Marlow. Kurtz's Intended shows herself to be his true soul mate, as she is as mad and lost to the light as he is. The dark irony of the situation is no better explained than by Kurtz himself, who "during that supreme moment of complete knowledge...cried out...'The horror! The horror!'"(Conrad, 118).


Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer. 2nd ed. New York, New York: 1981

McClure, John A."Marlow and Mrs. Moore." Friday, May 24, 2002

Yatzeck, Richard. "Marlow's Lie ( A Lawrence University Freshmen Studies Lecture)". Http://www, Friday, May 24, 2002.



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