Literature is never interpreted in exactly the same way by two different readers. A prime example of a work of literature that is very ambiguous is Joseph Conrad's, "Heart of Darkness". The Ambiguities that exist in this book are Marlow's relationship to colonialism, Marlow's changing feelings toward Kurtz, and Marlow's lie to the Intended at the end of the story.
In his narrative, Marlow declares, "You know I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appalls me. There is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies, - which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world - what I want to forget" (Longman 2210). In spite of these strong words, he lies to Kurtz's "Intended" when he visits her and tells her, "The last word he pronounced was - your name" (Longman 2246). Marlow's words, spoken in Part I to the audience, seem to contradict his words spoken in Part III to the Intended. Upon closer examination however, it is clear that it was keeping to his beliefs that caused Marlow to lie to
The unknown and uncharted topography of the African continent first beckoned Conrad’s narrator, Marlow, into its depths in his boyhood: “Now, when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration” (Conrad, 5). When Marlow was grown and Africa was no longer a blank space on the map, but rather “a place of darkness,” there was still one river there that drew him especially, “a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land” (Conrad, 5-6). This same deep place that had seduced Conrad’s ivory hunting Kurtz into the horrors of its savage embrace had, in 1890, lured Conrad himself into adventure that turned him from sailor to writer (Smith, 25) and severely effected his health for the rest of his life (Conrad,v). As the voyage up the Congo proved fateful for the development of Conrad’s narrator, Marlow, it was equally fateful for Conrad’s individuation, as he reflects in his letters “Before the
At the end of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Marlow has has finally returned to Brussels from the Congo, and his interactions with the Intended lead to revelations surrounding the true intentions of Kurtz’s actions. As opposed to Part I, where Kurtz’s words place a veil over Marlow and cause him to seem conflicted in his judgement, Marlow now realizes what he has implicitly contributed to by enabling Kurtz. Marlow initially withdraws judgement and condones Kurtz’s actions due to the persuasive nature of his words; however, this ambivalence eventually transforms to horror as he realizes the grave repercussions of Kurtz’s brutal dominance.
Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is full of oppositions. The most obvious is the juxtaposition of darkness and light, which are both present from the very beginning, in imagery and in metaphor. The novella is a puzzling mixture of anti-imperialism and racism, civilization and savagery, idealism and nihilism. How can they be reconciled? The final scene, in which Marlow confronts Kurtz's Intended, might be expected to provide resolution. However, it seems, instead, merely to focus the dilemmas in the book, rather than solving them.
Marlow’s evolution renders ‘Heart of Darkness’ a remarkable work of literature, but it is not simply the budding of the narrator’s mind that makes the novel sensational. Marlow’s perception of the voyage is what truly renders the work exceptional. European expansion, as written by European writers, was generally cast in a positive light. When Conrad depicts the desolation of the journey and reveals the sanities and lives robbed through the conquest, he clearly does not conform to the writers of his time. This exposure of European expansion in such a sinister a fashion was innovative for writers of the late 17th century. This revolutionary perception is what truly allows ‘Heart of Darkness’ to be considered a novel rich in moral and detail.
What makes Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness more than the run of the mill adventure tale, is its moral complexity. By the end of the novel, we find a protagonist who has immense appreciation for a man who lacks honest redemption, the mysterious Mr. Kurtz. It is the literal vivaciousness and unyielding spirit of this man, his pure intentionality, which Marlow finds so entrancing and which leaves the reader with larger questions regarding the human capacity. Therefore, Heart of Darkness is profoundly different given its character complexity and ambiguous narrative technique which ultimately deliver home a message of the complex motivations and capabilities of mankind.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is a novel about a man named Marlow and his journey into the depths of the African Congo. Marlow is in search of a man named Kurtz, an ivory trader. Though Marlow?s physical journey seems rather simple, it takes him further into his own heart and soul than into the Congo. The setting, symbols and characters each contain light and dark images, these images shape the central theme of the novel.
"Restraint! I would have just as soon expected restraint from a hyena prowling amongst the corpses of a battle," comments Marlow as he questions why the hungry cannibals aboard his steamer hadn't gone for the white crew members (Conrad 43). "The glimpse of the steamboat . . . filled those savages with unrestrained grief," Marlow explains after recalling the cries of the natives seeing the steamer amidst a brief fog lift (Conrad 44). "Poor fool! He had no restraint, no restraint . . .a tree swayed by the wind," speaks Marlow of a slain helmsman amidst an attack by tribal savages (Conrad 52). "Mr. Kurtz lacked restraint in the gratification of his various lusts," says Marlow a few moments after he tells of his first glimpse of
Inherent inside every human soul is a savage evil side that remains repressed by society. Often this evil side breaks out during times of isolation from our culture, and whenever one culture confronts another. History is loaded with examples of atrocities that have occurred when one culture comes into contact with another. Whenever fundamentally different cultures meet, there is often a fear of contamination and loss of self that leads us to discover more about our true selves, often causing perceived madness by those who have yet to discover their own self. Joseph Conrad’s book, The Heart of Darkness is a story about Man’s journey into his self, the discoveries to be made there and about
An inescapable ignorance dominates the way we define "culture". It is all too easy to define culture when a group of people feel as though they are part of the same culture. A bias arises when defining this term, because we consider ourselves to be "cultured". We define culture with our own definitions, and we judge it through our own prejudiced eyes. To accurately define culture, we must take ourselves out of the cultural boundaries we have been accustomed to. Of course, this is impossible. Accordingly, defining the essence of culture is something I cannot attempt to do.
Chinua Achebe, a well-known writer, once gave a lecture at the University of Massachusetts about Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, entitled "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness." Throughout his essay, Achebe notes how Conrad used Africa as a background only, and how he "set Africa up as a foil to Europe,"(Achebe, p.251) while he also "projects the image of Africa as 'the other world,' the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilization."(Achebe, p.252) By his own interpretations of the text, Achebe shows that Conrad eliminates "the African as a human factor," thereby "reducing Africa to the role of props."(Achebe, p.257)
As one person have different perception this can create conflict between one another. This demonstrate the protagonist Marlow showing his perception “I saw the time approaching when I would be left alone of the party of ‘unsound method’. The meaning of this quote is that marlow thoughts is totally different from others as if the people around him thinks it’s right while he believes it's wrong. It is like they relationship between marlow and the people around him is being separated. The language of the quote was used to show conflict of perception was in First person narration. One of the idea was separation and the perception of marlow senses. ‘Unsound Method’ is another phrase of showing that he is thinking different from the people around
To sum up the harshness and cruelties of imperialism, Conrad explains that, “The conquest of the Earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing”(4). Also, Conrad uses imagery to depict the journey up the Congo and through the darkness of the African Safari. There are two reasons why he described, in extensive detail, Marlow’s trip. The first reason was to show the effects of wilderness on the human heart. Guerard, an acclaimed critic, describes the significance of the actual journey.