Struggle between Freudian Personalities in Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"

Struggle between Freudian Personalities in Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"

Length: 1389 words (4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Heart of Darkness, is not only an intense tale of pursuit, but also a psychological roller coaster as, through the characters of the story, Joseph Conrad shows us a powerful struggle between the Freudian personalities of id, ego and superego. The main characters of the novel, Marlow and Kurtz are mainly identified with the id and the super-ego type of personalities, and throughout the novel, these characters are placed in intense situations which makes them question their own beliefs and reactions, and ultimately their human personality. Hence, in between the characters, not only is there a battle in the physical sense, but also on the meta-physical level. This leads to a psychological imbalance between the human personalities of both the characters, and while one character is already dominated by his id to a large extent, the other character grapples with the struggle of his id with his super-ego.

This story is set in the backdrop of the Congo River, in the African jungles. Joseph Conrad, the author of this novel himself had piloted a small steamboat up the Congo River amidst a dense land which was being heartlessly exploited as the private property of King Leopold. Although Conrad wasn’t to meet any Kurtz, the entire experience of the journey left him morally, mentally and physically crippled. Thus, this novel possesses many auto-biographical elements as Conrad has included many inferences based on his own experience in the African jungle. And this also heavily impacts the psychological nuances which the characters in the story go through.

Now, relating the psycho-analytical elements of the novel to the Freudian division of personalities, the characters of Marlow and Kurtz draw a parallel with mainly the superego and the i...

... middle of paper ...

...he also tries to tell us that like Kurtz, some men can stray so far that it becomes impossible to come back.

Thus, in this novel, the characters of Marlow and Kurtz, are, at one time, shown to have been dominated by their super-ego, brought up in the British society believing in the White man’s burden. Then, both the characters journey through the African jungles, where they are confronted by horrors that they struggle to stay human and civilized. While Kurtz gives in completely to his id and becomes an inhumane barbarian, controlled by his wants and wishes; Marlow doesn’t completely give in as much as Kurtz but does remain psychologically affected from his experiences. Finally, through this intense struggle between the personalities of the characters, Conrad tries to tell us that human personality is indeed very fragile, and can be compromised without restraint.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness Through a Freudian Lens Essay

- Without personal access to authors, readers are left to themselves to interpret literature. This can become challenging with more difficult texts, such as Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness. Fortunately, literary audiences are not abandoned to flounder in pieces such as this; active readers may look through many different lenses to see possible meanings in a work. For example, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness may be deciphered with a post-colonial, feminist, or archetypal mindset, or analyzed with Freudian psycho-analytic theory....   [tags: Literary Analysis ]

Powerful Essays
1207 words (3.4 pages)

The Freudian Model in Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay

- The Freudian Model in Heart of Darkness       In my essay I intend to prove Joseph Conrad's use of the Freudian model of the human mind, as portrayed in his characterization of Marlowe, Kurtz, and the "wilderness". Further, using that model I will explicate Conrad's ambiguous tone in Heart of Darkness. First, I must define each figure in Conrad's novel with its appropriate Freudian psyche. These psyche are defined in an essay by Ross C. Murfin's essay, "Psychoanalytic Criticism in The Awakening": "the human mind is essentially dual in nature....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Powerful Essays
919 words (2.6 pages)

The Mind of Man in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad Essay

- The Mind of Man in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad "The changes take place inside you know" the doctor warns Marlow in Heart of Darkness (9). Joseph Conrad, the author of Heart of Darkness, uses the words of the doctor to warn the readers of the changes Marlow faces on his journey. This journey was a physical journey to the heart of the Congo River, but it was also a journey into the depths of his own mind. As Marlow encounters three stations along the Congo River, he encounters three stations or levels in his mind....   [tags: Joseph Conrad Heart Darkness Essays]

Powerful Essays
892 words (2.5 pages)

Essay on A Freudian Perspective of Marlow in Conrad's Heart of Darkness

- A Freudian Perspective of Marlow in Heart of Darkness       On the surface, Heart of Darkness is the exploration of the African Congo where the explorers are trying to conquer the natives and make a profit in the ivory business. However, there is much more to the short novel written by Joseph Conrad than just the surface. It is also the exploration of the unconscious where the goal is to conquer the unknown. At the same time when Heart of Darkness was surfacing in the 20th century society, a psychologist named Sigmund Freud was publishing his research findings....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Powerful Essays
1969 words (5.6 pages)

journeyhod Spiritual Journey in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay

- Spiritual Journey in Heart of Darkness   Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad may be a narrative about colonisation, revealing its drawbacks and corruption, but it may also be understood as a journey into the depths of one’s psyche, if taken at a symbolic level. At the beginning of the novel the reader is informed that Marlow is “not typical”, that he, contrary to stay-at-home-minded seamen, is a “wanderer”. He has no home, in a psychological sense of the word. He simply “follows the sea”. This may evoke an interpretation that the man is disturbed, that he attempts to find out about the secrets of his soul, to get to know himself....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Powerful Essays
528 words (1.5 pages)

Prejudice and Racism in Heart of Darkness? Essay

- Heart of Darkness: Racist or not.   Many critics, including Chinua Achebe in his essay "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness", have made the claim that Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness, despite the insights which it offers into the human condition, ought to be removed from the canon of Western literature. This claim is based on the supposition that the novel is racist, more so than other novels of its time. While it can be read in this way, it is possible to look under the surface and create an interpretation of Conrad's novel that does not require the supposition of extreme racism on the part of Conrad....   [tags: HOD Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness]

Powerful Essays
874 words (2.5 pages)

Psychoanalysis and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay

- Psychoanalysis and The Heart of Darkness         In Lacanian psychoanalysis, telling stories is essential to the analysand's (re)cognition of trauma. Julia Kristeva refers to the analysand's narrative as an instance of "'borderline' [neurotic] discourse" which "gives the analyst the impression of something alogical, unstitched, and chaotic" (42). She then explores the pleasure (jouissance) that the analysand experiences in the course of Lacan's talking cure. For the analysand, the pleasure is in the telling: "[T]he analyst is struck by a certain maniacal eroticization of speech, as if the patient were clinging to it, gulping it down, sucking on it, delighting in all the aspects of an ora...   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Powerful Essays
1126 words (3.2 pages)

Essay on The Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad

- In The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, a seaman named Marlow examines European imperialism before his very eyes and how it is affecting the natives in the area they are imperializing, which is the Belgian Congo. Conrad conveys to the reader that multiple people have multiple views on the natives and their habitat. On the other hand, Conrad also displays how the natives have different feelings for the Europeans that are intruding on their land. Through Marlow’s eyes, we see a very prospective view as he speaks of how he does not favor the treatment of the natives yet he does nothing to stop it....   [tags: Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad]

Powerful Essays
1169 words (3.3 pages)

Essay on Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad

- Joseph Conrad’s novella, Heart of Darkness, showcases a steady decline of one 's sanity, through the voyage that the main character, Marlow, takes through the Congo River; this is shown by the french ship firing into the jungle, Kurtz’s letters, and the stops at the three stations: the outer, center, and inner. The first showcase of madness in this novella is when Marlow is about to enter the congo and he sees a French war ship firing randomly into the jungle. The French have a French warship firing into an uninhabited land, so they can battle the natives that live the congo....   [tags: Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad]

Powerful Essays
1240 words (3.5 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)