Aspects of Human Nature in "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad

Essay by butigurlHigh School, 12th gradeA+, February 2007

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Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness encompasses many themes and concepts dealing with the very nature of humanity and its complexity. This novel is set up in two different locations, the Thames River and the Congo River. Conrad uses these two rivers to represent the different cultures that clash in this novel, which are the "civilized" and the "savages". While exploring these two different worlds Conrad exposes the human nature at its core through the characters in this novel proving that not everything is straightforward and is at it seems.

The Thames River located in Southern England represents the advanced European world. In this novel the Europeans regarded themselves as civilized and cultured. On the other hand, Conrad embeds numerous dark intense imageries to describe this "enlightened" culture such as violent, death, brooding gloom, and more. While the Congo River represents the uncivilized native inhabitants that are described as "utter savagery" (Conrad, 1990, p.

4), but the nature that surrounds the Congo is described as mysterious, glittering, and precious.

The contrast of these locations and representations reveals different aspects of human nature. One un-admirable quality of human nature that is shown is pride. The European characters in this novel had the mentality that they were superior to the natives. Because of their superior status they felt that European Imperialism and the stations set up were meant for "humanizing, improving, instructing" (Conrad, 1990, p. 29) the uncivilized savages. Instead these civilized European men "Christianizing" and trying to conform the natives to their standards they have succumb to the darkness within the jungle displaying their true nature.

Another aspect of human nature shown by the ironic descriptions of the "civilized" and "uncivilized" locations is man's destructive nature. There were numerous events in this novel that portrayed man's destructive nature due to...