"Heart of Darkness." by Joseph Conrad.

Essay by brj2012College, UndergraduateA, April 2003

download word file, 5 pages 3.0

In the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad one of the major themes is the perversity of the Congo. What is good and evil in the European world becomes distorted and hazy in the heart of Africa. To the outside world white is good and black is evil; it is as simple as that. This philosophy is embodied in

Marlow's aunt, who believes that his job is to bring light into the land of darkness and to enlighten the savages. This idea, however, becomes corrupted when white objects symbolize suffering and greed instead of good, and light images hide the presence of darkness. Symbols such as, a white rag, white imperialists and ivory, no longer represent the good will of the imperialists, on the other hand they represent the exploitation and chaos that the Europeans have brought to the Congo. The main character Marlow is faced with this confusion as he voyages through the jungle, and he must reevaluate his former opinions, which no longer hold true.

The European philosophy is shown through the conversation that Marlow has with his aunt before commencing his adventure.

According to her, his job seems clear: to bring civilization and light to the" heart of darkness." Instead of focusing on the horrors of imperialism she is disillusioned to believe that it is all for the better. The Europeans, especially the British have no respect for other cultures or other ways of life, and they truly believe that they are helping the Africans. Not by choice but because of the "white man's burden" they feel the need to "[wean] those ignorant millions from their horrid ways"(28). To the outside this seems like an earnest motive; however, once inside Marlow begins to see new forms of corruption. Are the imperialists their...