"Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad

Essay by crydeeHigh School, 12th gradeA-, February 2007

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An Insight into "Heart of Darkness"

In the sensational novel "Heart of Darkness" the story opens with the five men anchored on a ship called the Nellie at the entrance of the Thames. Here the narrator of the story, Marlow, engages in a story about his experience as a steamship captain going up the Congo River, where he was hired on by a Belgian Trading company. Marlow on his expedition is introduced to the character Kurtz, the leader of the rich inner station. The reader learns that Kurtz is a highly gifted and accomplished man in many areas; he can paint, play music and is a charismatic leader. Kurtz plays a pivotal role in the novel's success however his character appears only briefly in the novel. Kurtz's brief appearance gives Marlow's character meaning. The novel also illustrates Conrad's critical view on imperialism in Africa, and is an overall attack on values of Western society.

Marlow's character in the novel is on a quest to find and meet Kurtz. His whole existence in the novel is to interpret Kurtz and what he represents to the readers. The readers learn about Kurtz through Marlow, and Marlow's obsession with meeting Kurtz is just him in return learning about himself as Kurtz is Marlow's opposite. For example where Marlow says "I don't like work--no man does--but I like what is in the work, --the chance to find yourself. Your own reality-- for yourself, not for others-- what no man other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means"(66). When he says that the readers understand that Marlow wants to find out about himself.

Marlow and Kurtz were also the only two characters with names in the novel, highlighting their...