Joseph Conrad's novel, "Heart of Darkness", depicts events in his personal life and how he came to believe that the European invasion of the African Congo needed to end. Joseph Conrad had a boyhood fascination of maps and the blank spaces on the African continent. Therefore, when the opportunity was given to him to become the captain of a small steamship on the Congo River, he jumped at the chance. In addition to Conrad's sense of adventure, he also had a curiosity of King Leopold's actions in the Belgium Congo and had a strong desire to witness firsthand the action taking place. After learning his assigned ship was undergoing repairs, he accompanied another crew on passenger ship assigned to bring back an ailing company agent, George Klein, who later died on the return trip. These events provided the backdrop so to speak of Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness. The character of "Kurtz" was modeled after the company agent, George Klein. Although, Conrad never names the Congo or other significant landmarks, he later admits the book a "snapshot' of his trip in the African Congo. (Longman p2189).
Heart of Darkness is written in the narrative frame and Conrad uses the character of Marlow to narrate his story of the "darkness" of the European colonialization. Marlow narrates his tell aboard a yawl to an anonymous crew. Joseph Conrad became more aware of King Leopold's policy within the Congo, causing millions of deaths of African natives because inhumane practices. He felt he could impact readers through depicting these horrors in his novel. From this viewpoint, Conrad goes on to build his novel of the around the theme of "darkness" compared to a man's natural wi...
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...ntiment of the time that the British were indeed helping these natives by civilizing them to British standards.
In conclusion, Joseph Conrad uses the theme of "heart of darkness" throughout his novel to portray the darkness within mankind. He describes how man has a natural aspiration for superiority and control. Conrad deliberately leaves the locations unnamed in an effort to show that the "heart of this darkness" can shift on its axis. (Longman p2189) As Marlow indicates, the journey up river has been a reverse journey as well, a journey back from Africa to the darkness that lies at the heart of an England that claims to be civilizing those whom it is merely conquering. (Longman p2189)
Damrosch, David, et al., ed. The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Vol. B. Compact ed. New York: Longman - Addison Wesley Longman, 2000.
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