Colonialism And Imperialism In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

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The horrors of the past do not fade with time - whether the horrors occur in one’s lifetime or decades before. In Heart of Darkness and Native Guard, Joseph Conrad and Natasha Trethewey respectively chronicle their characters’ journeys as they struggle to overcome the demons of their personal histories and of history itself. With persistent reflection, both characters achieve a clearer understanding of their pasts, allowing them to transform according to the truths they have discovered. Conrad and Trethewey use water as a symbol to express the shift in their characters’ identities: Marlow from apathetic detachment to passive awareness and Trethewey’s speaker from confused turmoil to a definite identity.
In his novella Heart of Darkness, Conrad uses the symbol water to express Marlow’s change from apathy to awareness throughout his journey from the outer station to the inner station. As explained in Albert Guerard’s criticism “The Journey Within," Conrad represents his character’s “spiritual voyage of self-discovery” by having Marlow travel down a dynamic body of water (Guerard 302). As he travels down the Congo, Marlow’s belief in imperialism’s noble cause and his indifference slowly erode away with the passage of water, subtly changing Marlow. Conrad includes this change to show that imperialism negatively affects conquerors in addition to the civilization imperialized. At the beginning of Marlow’s story, he shows only indifference to the people suffering around him. While
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