Heart of Darkness4





Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad\'s novella, Heart of Darkness, tells a story about a journey experienced by Marlow, the main character, and how the different symbolizations of light and darkness change his viewpoints on the true nature of mankind. Joseph Conrad grew up in Polish Ukraine. Conrad’s father, Apollo, was arrested on suspicions of involvement with revolutionary activities. From then on, the family was thrown into exile. Conrad’s mother died of tuberculosis in 1865. At age eleven Joseph Conrad was left an orphan.
There is a group of men aboard an English ship that is sitting on the Thames. The group includes a Lawyer, an Accountant, a Captain, and the main character Marlow. Marlow is a stationary man, very unusual for a seaman. He is not understood because he does not fit into a neat category in the same manner the others do. Marlow mentions colonization, and says that the taking of the earth is not something to examine too closely because it is horrible. Marlow then moves into a narration of a life experience in Africa, which forced him to become a fresh water sailor and gave him a glimpse of colonization. Marlow has always had a passion for travel and exploration. Marlow decides he wants to be the skipper of a steamship that travels up and down the river in Africa. His aunt has a connection in the administration department of a seafaring/exploration company and manages to get Marlow and appointment, because one of the steamboat captains was killed in a skirmish with the natives. When Marlow arrives at the office, the atmosphere is extremely dim. The doctor who performs his physical asks if there is a history of insanity in Marlow’s family, and tells him that nothing could persuade him to attend the company down the Congo. The next day Marlow embarks on his journey into the heart of darkness. The African shores he observes look welcoming. “ The Voice of the serf heard now and then was a positive pleasure, like the speech of a brother. It was something natural, that had its reason, that had a meaning...for a time I would feel I belonged to a world of straightforward facts...”(Heart of Darkness, 78) When he arrives he comes across a very well-dressed man who is known as the Accountant. After ten days Marlow departs on his journey into the Congo, where he will work for a man named Kurtz. Marlow come across many villages, and black men who are working. They are never described as humans. “ Now and then a boat from shore gave one a momentary contact with reality. It was paddled by black fellows. You could see from afar their eyeballs glistening. They shouted, sang; thier bodies streamed with perspiration, they had faces like grotesque masks - these chaps; but they had bone, muscle, and a wild vitality, an intense energy of movement, that was as natural and true as the surf along the shore.”(Heart of Darkenss, 78) Marlow finally arrives at the station, where he meets the manager. The ship that Marlow is supposed to sail is broken. When his ship has been repaired he sets out for Kurtz’s station with the Pilgrims, the cannibals, and the manager. Marlow finally gets to meet Kurtz but finds he is ill. Kurtz can be described as a murderer and a thief. Kurtz also allows himself to be worshipped as a god. There is no trace of Kurtz’ former good looks or health. Marlow says that Kurtz’ head is as bald as an ivory ball and that he resembles “... an animated image of death carved out of old ivory.” Kurtz dies a few days later, with Marlow having attended him to the end.
Throughout the narrative Marlow characterizes events in terms of light and darkness. In the beginning Marlow compares the light with civility and reality. Marlow uses darkness to depict savagery. These two aspects are major themes in the Heart of Darkness.As Marlow proceeds deeper into the heart of the African jungle he begins to thing that savagery is just an early form of civilization, and that Thames seemed to “lead into the heart of immense darkness.” (book) Marlow associates light with knowledge and truth; darkness with mystery and seductive evil. When Marlow realizes