Loss of Innocence in Heart of Darkness Essay

Loss of Innocence in Heart of Darkness Essay

Length: 1713 words (4.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Loss of Innocence in Heart of Darkness

     Heart of Darkness is Joseph Conrad's tale of one man's journey, both mental and physical, into the depths of the wild African jungle and the human soul. The seaman, Marlow, tells his crew a startling tale of a man named Kurtz and his expedition that culminates in his encounter with the "voice" of Kurtz and ultimately, Kurtz's demise. The passage from Part I of the novel consists of Marlow's initial encounter with the natives of this place of immense darkness, directly relating to Conrad's use of imagery and metaphor to illustrate to the reader the contrast between light and dark. The passage, although occurring earlier on in the novel, is interspersed with Marlow's two opposing points of view: one of naïveté, which comes before Marlow's eventual epiphany after having met Kurtz, and the matured perspective he takes on after all of the events leading up to his and Kurtz's encounter.


            Almost immediately after the start of the passage, the reader is exposed to the prejudices of the white inhibitors. The indigenous people of the area are repeatedly compared to animals, dehumanizing them and depriving them of the common respect that all people deserve, regardless of race or creed. On page 24, Marlow says "A lot of people, mostly black and naked, moved about like ants." Reinforcing this idea, he lends them other animal-like qualities, calling the sickly ones "creatures" and describing their movements as being "off on all fours...to drink," and even the act of drinking is described as the native having "lapped out of his hand," reminiscent of something a dog would do (28).


            Another interesting employment of language used by...

... middle of paper ...

...s of the jungle, which sought to swallow him whole like the snake devouring its prey, sending it deeper within its body digesting it by stripping it of its layers one by one, paralleling the snake-like qualities of the river that drew Marlow deeper and deeper into its dark nothingness. And just like the Ancient Mariner, who is doomed to tell his tale for the rest of his life for the sake of penitence, Marlow, too, seems to retell his story of the tragic loss of innocence, of death and rebirth. Regardless of how many times the story had been told before it got to the narrator who eventually transcribed the events, it is one of great importance. It tells us that we must not judge a book by its cover, regardless of how convinced we may be of what is inside.


Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1994.


Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Revelation through Experience in Heart of Darkness, Going After Cacciato, and The Things They Carri

- Revelation through Experience in Heart of Darkness, Going After Cacciato, and The Things They Carried Foreign lands seemingly possessed by evil spirits as well as evil men, ammunition stockpiles, expendable extremities and splintered, non-expendable limbs carpeting the smoking husks of burnt-out villages, the intoxicating colors of burning napalm, and courage mixed with cowardice in the face of extreme peril. These are just a few examples of the spell-binding images presented in the novels read in the class entitled The Literature of War at Wabash College....   [tags: Heart Darkness Going Cacciato Things Carried]

Powerful Essays
3249 words (9.3 pages)

Seamus Heaney's Portrayal of the Loss of Innocence Essay

- Heaney particually portrays the theme of 'loss of innocence' as a child through his peoms, 'Death of a Natrualist', 'Blackberry picking', 'Poem' and 'Personal Helicon'. Death of a Naturalsit of the first of Heaneys poems to really express this theme. 'All year round the flax-dam festered in the heart -------------------------------------------------- of the townland;green and heavey headed --------------------------------------- Flax rotted there.' In the first stanza Heaney uses rich imagery and purposeful child-like language such as 'festered' and 'warm thick slobber'....   [tags: Poems, Poetry]

Free Essays
830 words (2.4 pages)

Essay on The Fall of Innocence in Lord of the Flies by William Golding

- It’s one of the most famous stories to ever exist, the story of how two people changed what defines us as humans. It’s the story of Adam, Eve, a serpent, and the unbecoming of mankind, the Fall of Man. This iconic account has been the premise for many works over the centuries. Today, Lord of the Flies by William Golding is considered one of the most influential novels of our time, not only for its adventurous story of stranded boys on a lost island, but also because of its allegorical tale of the true fault in man’s soul....   [tags: eden, savage, purity]

Powerful Essays
639 words (1.8 pages)

The Dark Heart of Man, The Cold Heart of the Machine Essay

- “The first and final thing you have to do in this world is to last it and not be smashed by it.” – Ernest Hemingway. This is a seemingly simple and inarguable statement, but this sadly may not be the fate of a literary character. William Golding and Erich Maria Remarque’s young protagonists in The Lord of the Flies and All Quiet on the Western Front lose hope, identity and innocence in a Fall that is characteristic of novels that investigate the human capacity for evil in war and murder. Golding’s Ralph suffers in seeing his peers succumb to the heart of darkness without reason, explanation or redemption, whereas Remarque’s Paul is destroyed at the hands of politicians, teachers, parents and...   [tags: Literary Characters]

Powerful Essays
2017 words (5.8 pages)

Essay about Coming of Age Theme in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

- Patrick Rothfuss, author of award winning novel, The Name of the Wind, once noted, “When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.” Such is the case for Scout Finch, Harper Lee’s protagonist in To Kill a Mockingbird. In the exposition of the novel, Scout is an immature and nonchalant six-year old who believes her neighbor, Boo Radley, is a malevolent phantom....   [tags: bob, innocence, shadows]

Powerful Essays
599 words (1.7 pages)

Good vs. Evil in William Golding´s Lord of the Flies Essay

- It seems as though there is so much more evil than good in the world today. We hear of war and fighting 24/7 but we rarely hear about the good things that happen. Everyone is born with both good and bad within them. We, as humans, must choose which one we want to be. In The Lord of the Flies, Ralph is good while Jack is evil. Ralph represents the good side of us while Jack represents the evil side. Although sometimes it is easier to be evil, it pays off to be good. The novel is a perfect example of how all people are born with both sides....   [tags: Choices, Innocence, Boys]

Powerful Essays
725 words (2.1 pages)

Essay on The Darkness of Colonialism and Imperialism in Heart of Darkness

- The Light and Dark of Colonialism in Heart of Darkness       In the opening of his novel, Heart of Darkness, Conrad, through Marlow, establishes his thoughts on colonialism. He says that conquerors only use brute force, "nothing to boast of" because it arises, by accident, from another's weakness. Marlow compares his subsequent tale of colonialism with that of the Roman colonization of Northern Europe and the fascination associated with such an endeavor. However, Marlow challenges this viewpoint by painting a heinous picture of the horrors of colonialist ventures as we delve deeper into the recesses of the novel....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Powerful Essays
1243 words (3.6 pages)

The Metaphors of Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essays

- The Metaphors of Heart of Darkness       Within the text of Heart of Darkness, the reader is presented with many metaphors. Those that recur, and are most arresting and notable, are light and dark, nature and Kurtz and Marlow. The repeated use of light and dark imagery represents civilization and primitiveness, and of course the eternal meaning of good and evil. However, the more in depth the reader goes the more complex it becomes. Complex also are the meanings behind the metaphors of nature included within the text....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Powerful Essays
1403 words (4 pages)

Light and Dark in Heart of Darkness Essay

- Light and Dark in Heart of Darkness     The brightest of lights can obscure vision while darkness can contain truths: one must not be distracted by the sheen of light, which conceals the deeper reality present in darkness. Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness illustrates this idea with the use of several symbols. White Europeans are used as symbols of self-deception, and objects with an alabaster quality are symbols of barriers to inner truth. Black is the foil of white; it represents the inner truth beneath the white surface reality....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Powerful Essays
1182 words (3.4 pages)

Pure Horror in Heart of Darkness Essay

- Pure Horror in Heart of Darkness       In Heart of Darkness it is the white invaders for instance, who are,         almost without exception, embodiments of blindness, selfishness, and         cruelty; and even in the cognitive domain, where such positive         phrases as "to enlighten," for instance, are conventionally opposed         to negative ones such as "to be in the dark," the traditional       expectations are reversed.  In Kurtz's painting, as we have seen,         "the effect of the torch light on the face was sinister" (Watt 332)....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Free Essays
1462 words (4.2 pages)