"Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad.

Essay by ShakesHigh School, 12th gradeA+, May 2003

download word file, 4 pages 3.3

Downloaded 90 times


In Joseph Conrad's book Heart of Darkness the Europeans are cut off from civilization,

overtaken by greed, exploitation, and material interests from his own kind. Conrad develops

themes of personal power, individual responsibility, and social justice. His book has all the

trappings of the conventional adventure tale - mystery, exotic setting, escape, suspense, unexpected

attack. The book is a record of things seen and done by Conrad while in the Belgian Congo.

Conrad uses Marlow, the main character in the book, as a narrator so he himself can enter the

story and tell it out of his own philosophical mind. Conrad's voyages to the Atlantic and Pacific,

and the coasts of Seas of the East brought contrasts of novelty and exotic discovery. By the time

Conrad took his harrowing journey into the Congo in 1890, reality had become unconditional. The

African venture figured as his descent into hell. He returned ravaged by the illness and mental

disruption which undermined his health for the remaining years of his life.

Marlow's journey into

the Congo, like Conrad's journey, was also meaningful. Marlow experienced the violent threat of

nature, the insensibility of reality, and the moral darkness.

We have noticed that important motives in Heart of Darkness connect the white men with

the Africans. Conrad knew that the white men who come to Africa professing to bring progress

and light to "darkest Africa" have themselves been deprived of the sanctions of their European

social orders; they also have been alienated from the old tribal ways.

"Thrown upon their own inner spiritual resources they may be utterly damned by their

greed, their sloth, and their hypocrisy into moral insignificance, as were the pilgrims, or

they may be so corrupt by their absolute power over the Africans that some Marlow will

need to lay...