Inherent inside every human soul is a savage evil side that remains repressed by society. Often this evil side breaks out during times of isolation from our culture, and whenever one culture confronts another. History is loaded with examples of atrocities that have occurred when one culture comes into contact with another. Whenever fundamentally different cultures meet, there is often a fear of contamination and loss of self that leads us to discover more about our true selves, often causing perceived madness by those who have yet to discover their own self. Joseph Conrad’s book, The Heart of Darkness is a story about Man’s journey into his self, the discoveries to be made there and about Man confronting his fears of insanity, death, and cultural contamination.
During Marlow’s mission to find Kurtz, he is also trying to find himself. He, like Kurtz had good intentions upon entering the Congo. Conrad tries to show us that Marlow is what Kurtz had been, and Kurtz is what Marlow could become. Every human has a little of Marlow and Kurtz in them. Marlow says about himself, "I was getting savage (Conrad)," meaning that he was becoming more like Kurtz. Along the trip into the wilderness, they discover their true selves through contact with “savage” natives.
As Marlow ventures further up the Congo, he feels like he is traveling back through time. He sees the unsettled wilderness and can feel the darkness of its solitude. Marlow comes across simpler cannibalistic cultures along the banks. The deeper into the jungle he goes, the more regressive the inhabitants seem.
Kurtz had lived in the Congo, and was separated from his own culture for qu...
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...ure, a self-discovery happens. Both cultures realize that deep down inside, all humans are essentially the same. We all posses a good and an evil side, and no culture no matter how "advanced," is exempt from that fact. This discovery often causes madness as this evil side is allowed out. Only those who have completed the "journey into self" can understand the actions of people such as Kurtz. They are alone in this world of horror.
Conrad, James. Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. New York, Paperbacks ltd. 1996.
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