Essay PreviewMore ↓
The short novel Heart of Darkness tells a story just like any other heroic myth, except better. This novel rewards an educated reader. Many find the work to be extremely confusing, and actually quite dull. Though it is a complicated book, a reader is stimulated by the symbols and linguistics used by Conrad. The most noticeable is the flaw in the Cosmogony Cycle. This cycle is an integral part of every hero’s journey. An important step in the cycle, the second step in fact, is finding a guide, either spiritual or tangible. If one were to look hard enough in most works of canonical literature, he would find all the necessary components of the Cosmogonic Cycle on the protagonist’s journey, the travel into the underworld, confronting the father figure, meeting, and saving, a female prisoner, then the journey back into the conscious. A guide is there to lead the hero. He generally is a man or woman who has been on a similar journey and knows the pitfalls where the hero may fall. Without this figure in Marlow’s journey, he fell into the temptation of staying in the unconscious "evil" domain. Conrad never gave Marlow a guide, in essence, dooming him to fail his mission.
At the beginning of the protagonist’s journey it seemed as though the "two women . . . knitting black wool" (Conrad 13) in the trading center office were there to foreshadow the mortal death of Marlow. One may have drawn this conclusion because this is an obvious reference to the women who knitted while watching aristocrats executed by the guillotine during the French Revolution. I believe it meant something much more deep. A good writer, one of Conrad’s caliber, does not place superfluous scenes, words, or phrases in his or her book. He writes only what he needs to write. With that in mind, because Marlow did not die at the end of his journey, therefore the women then had to represent something else. They foreshadowed the death of Marlow’s soul. They knew he was without a spirit guide because they were aware the Trading Company had not offered him one. They also knew Kurtz hadn’t had a guide either.
There were multiple uses of the word soul in the final chapter, many of which talked of the inability for a man’s soul to escape the forest.
How to Cite this Page
"The Cosmogonic Cycle in Conrad's Heart of Darkness." 123HelpMe.com. 26 Sep 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- 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]
1187 words (3.4 pages)
- An Analysis of Conrad's Heart of Darkness In the twentieth century, nihilistic themes, such as moral degeneration, man's bestial instincts at the core of the soul, and cosmic purposelessness, have preoccupied many works of literature and philosophy.... [tags: Conrad Heart Darkness]
1464 words (4.2 pages)
- The Theme of Darkness in Conrad's Heart of Darkness Works Cited Not Included It has been said that although Conrad may not have been 'the greatest novelist, he was certainly the greatest artist every to write a novel';. I feel that this is an apt description of Conrad's writing style in Heart of Darkness (1902), as he paints many verbal pictures by using expressive words and many figurative descriptions of places and people. An extensive use of words relating to colour, is evident throughout the novella.... [tags: Heart Darkness Joseph Conrad Essays]
1326 words (3.8 pages)
- Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" Joseph Conrad's novel "Heart of Darkness" written in 1902 is an overwhelming chronicle of Marlow's journey into the heart of the African continent. It is one of the most influential novels of the twentieth century. In this ghastly and horrific tale, Marlow leads an expedition up the Congo River, only to find everything is not as it seems. This haunting and mysterious story takes him into the unbearable core of the jungle. The novel also explores trade and exploration, imperialism and colonization.... [tags: Heart Darkness Joseph Conrad Essays]
755 words (2.2 pages)
- Joseph Conrad's The Women of Heart of Darkness The novella Heart of Darkness illustrates readers with three different types of depictions that men had of women during the late 1800’s; also known as the imperialistic era. These depictions were as follows; the naive woman, the mistress, and the wealthy widow. The naïve woman was personified by Kurtz intended. The mistress was personified by the native African woman. The wealthy widow is personified by Marlow’s aunt. This assumption can be made on various levels.... [tags: Heart Darkness Conrad Essays]
690 words (2 pages)
- Women do not play an important part in Heart of Darkness. This is not too surprising as the text was first published for a magazine in 1898. Throughout Marlow's voyage he encounters few women and he does not consider any of them to be his equal. His reference to women places them in their own little world where they should remain. There are a number of reasons as to why Marlow may have this understanding of the female being. These reasons include, but are not limited to, the lack of females in his life, the fact that he is primarily surrounded by men, and the type of women he comes in contact with in his line of work.... [tags: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness]
876 words (2.5 pages)
- Use of Light and Darkness in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness contrasts light and darkness, to represent the civilized and uncivilized sides of the world. Conrad uses light to represent the civilized side of humanity while contrasting the dark with the uncivilized and savage. Throughout the thematic stages of the novel, that is the Thames river London, the company's office in Belgium, the journey to the "heart of darkness" and the conclusion, light and dark is used to represent these sides of humanity, but on a deeper level many assumptions of darkness and light are challenged, with the appearance of light and dark, and in turn good and evil contras... [tags: Heart Darkness essays Joseph Conrad ]
1493 words (4.3 pages)
- Imperialism Exposed in Conrad's Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' is a novel about European imperialism and its far-reaching effects. Conrad relates his personal opinions through the protagonist, Marlow, who learns a great deal about imperialism while on a journey to the African Congo. Although 'Heart of Darkness' seems to be an anti-imperialistic work, this is not entirely true. Conrad condemns the overly idealistic nature of imperialism, but does not attack Britain's competent employment of it.... [tags: Heart Darkness essays papers Conrad]
1005 words (2.9 pages)
- Light and Dark Imagery in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is a novel about a man named Marlow and his journey into the depths of the African Congo. Marlow is in search of a man named Kurtz, an ivory trader. Though Marlow?s physical journey seems rather simple, it takes him further into his own heart and soul than into the Congo. The setting, symbols and characters each contain light and dark images, these images shape the central theme of the novel.... [tags: Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad]
588 words (1.7 pages)
- The Role of Women in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Women have taken an increasingly important role in literature. Only recently have authors portrayed women in a dominant, protagonistic light. Sophocles and other classical writers portrayed women more as reactors than heroines. Since the ancient Greeks, however, a trend has been established that gives women characters much more substance and purpose. A definite shift from the antediluvian ways can be seen, and the overall complexity of women characters has increased exponentially.... [tags: Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness]
968 words (2.8 pages)
Conrad gave the reader two rock hard telltale signs of Marlow’s change. The first is the setting, which was "dark . . condensed into a mournful gloom" (7). Though this may seem insignificant in the beginning, its symbolic value cannot be overlooked. All the other men were tired, except for Marlow, who seemed right at home. He has become comfortable in the evening, in the envelopment of darkness.
The second is Marlow’s transition from what he would call moral to immoral. When he re-emerges from the underworld he is depleted rather than stronger and more knowledgble. Without someone to lead him, he chose to block out the experiences through work, and was never affected by his exposure to events that occurred during his journey.
In the early part of the novel, Marlow tells his listeners that he would never tell a lie. In fact, he stated that it was the devils work to tell a lie. At the end of the work though, he tells the European girlfriend of Kurtz that his last words where her name. That was a bald faced lie. He had made a one hundred and eighty degree turn during the trip from the outer station to the inner station, and back. Marlow hadn’t been strong enough to take the journey alone, and during the course of the excursion, gave in, and relinquished some traits in order to stay sane.
All this was not Marlow’s fault though, because he had been doomed to fail. The most interesting part is that unless the reader knew of the Cosmogonic Cycle, specifically the importance of the spirit guide, or looked into the symbols used by Conrad, he or she may have thought that Conrad had gone unchanged through the novel. This, obviously, was not the case. He was changed by his experiences, but not in the heroic paradoxm.
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1988.