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The Heart of Darkness
In the Heart of Darkness, Conrad uses his own experiences in the Belgian Congo to create a character, Marlow, who is appalled by what he discovers in the Congo. Conrad uses a nameless second narrator to reveal the truth Marlow encounters as he journeys deep into the jungle. In his journey, Marlow becomes obsessed with the reclusive Mr. Kurtz. Because of his obsession, Marlow discovers an inherent evil deep down with in himself and all those around him. Conrad uses Kurtz in a way to show the absolute corruption and lack of self-restraint Marlow encounters in the Congo.
When the novel starts Marlow imagines his trip into the Congo will be an adventure in the unknown, but as he gets deeper and deeper into the jungle Marlow discovers the darkest part of the human mind. Marlow is horrified by what he sees around him and is held from oblivion only by the hope he holds for discovering the genius, Mr. Kurtz. Marlow discovers that the only thing that gives people restraint in society, and when left to himself man will become no better than a common animal. Only a rear and extraordinary man can control himself and those surroundings, Marlow believes that Kurtz is such a man. Marlow’s discovery of Kurtz and what he has done destroys his ideals, and this realization ho comes to in the Congo isolates him.
Kurtz becomes a source of light for Marlow in an otherwise dark place, the latter is driven to find Kurtz by a strong obsession. Marlow discovers the full capacity of his obsession when one of his crew dies, so that Marlow may reach the source of his light. As he journeys into the Congo, Marlow comes to discover ugly truth about himself and Kurtz. This has a great impact on Marlow and makes him a dynamic character. Marlow struggles throughout the novel to maintain some self restraint which everyone else seems to have lost out in the darkness. This use of light and dark is one of the most effective devises used by Conrad.
The framing device drives home the degree to which Marlow’s discoveries have isolated him from mainstream European society.
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