Character Growth in Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay

Character Growth in Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay

Length: 2948 words (8.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Character Growth in Conrad's Heart of Darkness

       Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness explores the intellectual, emotional and moral growth of characters throughout the novella. This character growth has been a recurring theme in literature, with the poet William Blake, among many others, exploring theories of the movement between innocence to experience. Although Conrad does not strictly address character growth in this manner, characters that do and do not undergo psychological growth are portrayed quite differently. Those who undergo these psychological changes are portrayed favorably, that is Marlow, the frame narrator, and Kurtz. These characters throughout the novel undergo significant change, for some it is gradual (Marlow), but for others such as Kurtz, this growth or realization occurs rapidly, and almost too late. While European colonialists - characters that do not grow, or remain at the stagnant psychological level - are used to represent the anti-colonialism theme to the readers. Conrad utilizes characters, and their psychological growth (or lack of growth) to distance himself from the narrative and endorse or criticize many themes that would be seen as revolutionary in the context of its publication. A large gap is then depicted between the characters who grow, portrayed as "enlightened" beings, and the pilgrims and European colonialists, who are seen in a colonial point of view as perfect examples of good, however portrayed by Conrad as stagnant, "Hollow men", whose aims and ideals are criticized.



The frame narrator, although not a major character in the novella, undergoes significant psychological growth throughout the text. This growth can be broadly divided into three phases - the initia...

... middle of paper ...

...hed ways of thinking, have a façade of bringing culture and progress to a world devoid of these elements, yet are merely "hollow men". They are merely acting as products for the indefinable aims of colonialism and in turn, move the readership to reject their ideals, emphasize the "enlightened" (those who grow) and encourage a similar psychological journey of the readership.






Conrad, J. (1995). Heart of Darkness. London: Penguin Group.


Dintenfass, M. (1996, March) Heart of Darkness Lecture. [WWW document]        URL


Maes-Jelinek, H. Notes on Heart of Darkness


Moon, B. (1992). Literary Terms A practical Glossary. Perth: Chalkface Press P/L


Analysis of Major Characters. [WWW document]         URL



Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

- ... The British began to see that the ‘others’ had agency and thus the ability to develop into a society similar to theirs in due time. Imperialism was unnecessary, so long as the British Empire maintained control of the world market. Once Germany, Belgium, and The United States were able to compete with the monopoly the British Empire had created, this forced the British Empire to explore new markets. It was the sudden demand for new foreign markets to adopt Imperialism as a political policy moving forward (Hobson 1)....   [tags: Darkness and imperialism]

Powerful Essays
1271 words (3.6 pages)

lighthod Voyage into the Darkness in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

- Voyage into the Heart of Darkness The voyage into the "Heart of Darkness" is told to us through the eyes of Charlie Marlow. As Marlow is aboard the "Nellie" he tells his story of expedition and growth. The men on the boat sit still yet bored. Marlow is like an old man sharing a story of his childhood, that for himself may be of great significance, and lead to a lesson, but the children yearn to hear a story of magic, castles and sword fights. Joseph Conrad uses Marlow's character to get across and express his own opinion....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Free Essays
700 words (2 pages)

Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness Essay

- The transition to Imperialism era was a tough time for everyone involved. It was considered a time where expansion took place. Empires focused their attention on conquest and gaining resources. A profitable balance of trade, it was believed, would provide the wealth necessary to maintain and expand the empire. (Cody). Novelists wrote about the experiences people went through during the Imperialism era. One particular novelist, Joseph Conrad, was declared negative and racist. Others considered Conrad to be a daring because of his depiction of realism....   [tags: Imperialism, inhuman, Africa]

Powerful Essays
854 words (2.4 pages)

lighthod Barriers in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay

- Barriers in Heart of Darkness Heart of Darkness is a book that explores many different ideas and philosophies regarding human life. How people see each other and connect with each other is one of the larger aspects of human life covered in this tale. During his journey, Marlowe meets many different types of people that he is able to decipher from the good and bad personal characteristics. These people all contribute to Marlowe’s growth as a person as he breaks down barriers inside himself that deal with race, loyalty, and the way people interrelate with each other....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Free Essays
1032 words (2.9 pages)

Marlow’s Debut Role as Narrator in Joseph Conrad’s Youth Essay

- Story telling has been a means of communicating a point of view by a novelist to his readers and also of handing down tradition, folklore and culture. A story originates in the mind of an individual as he/she gives shape to his perception of an experience weaving the magic of his/her narration. A narrator brings to life images that excite the imagination of his/her listeners, enabling them to create a world which is inhabited by the characters of his/her stories which are not only meaningful, but serve to emulate human experience itself....   [tags: joseph conrad, narrators, story telling]

Powerful Essays
1946 words (5.6 pages)

Joseph Conrad and The Modern Age Essay

- The 20th Century stands out not merely as an age of growth or refinement, but one of absolute transcendent recreation. This new era, presenting the world with radical new ideas and invention, ushered in shocking changes and previously unheard of notions and theory over the views of man. This new phase of humanity brought about the conception and birth of Modernism. Joseph Conrad in particular rushed forward to slam a door on the Victorian Age and end the century of optimism, reproving the human race's ideologies on virtue and purity with the more skeptical realities of the bleakness of real human nature and the power of unfortunate circumstance....   [tags: Literary Analysis]

Powerful Essays
1785 words (5.1 pages)

Essay on Marx’s Communist Manifesto and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

- Marx’s Communist Manifesto and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness      From social relationships to political power structures, all aspects of society were changed by the technology innovations of the industrial revolution. Manufacturing goods on a mass scale led to the development of an entirely new worker who’s success now depended on his ability to operate machines rather than his talent as a craftsman. The steam engine revolutionized modes of transportation: trains and railroads were implemented everywhere and steamboats facilitated cross-oceanic trade and exploration....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Powerful Essays
1709 words (4.9 pages)

Essay about Heart Of Darkness

- Heart of Darkness 		Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad is a fictional novel with an overflow of symbolism. Throughout the entire novel Conrad uses a plethora of simple colors, objects, and places in order to clarify very complex meanings. By doing this, Conrad is able to lure the reader into a world unlike his or her own: the Congo River, located in central Africa. Although the interpretation of these symbols is so elaborate, the simplicity of each makes it somewhat easy to overlook....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
998 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on Christopher Marlowe in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

- Christopher Marlowe Marlowe is an English poet and dramatist from the Renaissance era. He began his life working for his father as a shoemaker, then found his calling as a playwright and a poet. His work includes the plays Tamburlaine the Great in two parts 1587-88, The Jew of Malta about 1591, Edward II about 1592 and Dr Faustus about 1594, the poem Hero and Leander 1598, and a translation of parts of Ovid'sAmores. Marlowe transformed a new sense of power through his work. Witnesses have written about their relation to the plays of Christopher Marlowe....   [tags: Biography Biographies Essays]

Powerful Essays
543 words (1.6 pages)

Essay on The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

- The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad Marlow, an ordinary sailor with idealistic dreams, goes on a dark yet fascinating journey as a newly hired riverboat captain, traveling up the Congo River, seeking out the legendary chief of the Belgium trading company. When describing typical sites and events situated in the Congo, Joseph Conrad wrote "The Heart of Darkness" in a first person's view, with Marlow as the highlight character. As he writes on about Marlow's experiences, he portrays typical issues set in the time period of the late 1800's, such as slavery, trading and imperialism....   [tags: Joseph Conrad Heart Darkness]

Powerful Essays
1187 words (3.4 pages)