The semi-autobiographical novella, Heart of Darkness, was written by Joseph Conrad in 1899. In order to adequately capture the true meaning and purpose of the novel it must be read not only as an adventure story but also as a social critique of imperialism and an exploration into the human mind and human morality. The novella provides great insight into the depths of the human psyche and explores the issue of mankind's inner savagery, or heart of darkness. Conrad uses narrative techniques such as duel narration and imagery to highlight these key ideas. Heart of Darkness is said to have established one of the dominant themes of 20th Century writing; fear and disillusionment about the western man's place in the world.
Heart of Darkness can be read in part on a narrative level, detailing Marlow's journey through the Belgian Congo. However, to read it singularly in this way would be an injustice to the overall purpose of the novella.
In depth psychological issues are paralleled to Marlow's physical journey. For instance, as Marlow gets closer to Kurtz he is able to see more clearly the appeal of succumbing to savagery, "What thrilled you was the thought of their humanity...the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar... an appeal to me in this fiendish row, is there..." Marlow also begins to be attracted to the idea of being a "deity" like being over the African people, shown by his enthusiastic response to Kurtz's report, " 'must appear to them [savages] in the nature of supernatural beings...by the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded.' From that moment he soared and took me with him."
Throughout the novella, Conrad attempts to "awaken the reader to the destructive, demoralising nature of...