Cultural Collisions in Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" Essay

Decent Essays
Shiloh Gilbert
April 8, 2010 There is an abundance of literature in which characters become caught between colliding cultures. Often, these characters experience a period of growth from their exposure to a culture that’s dissimilar to their own. Such is the case with Marlow, Joseph Conrad’s infamous protagonist from ‘Heart of Darkness’. Marlow sets off to Africa on an ivory conquest and promptly found himself sailing into the heart of the Congo River. Along the way he is faced with disgruntled natives, cannibals, and the ominous and foreboding landscape. Marlow’s response to these tribulations is an introspective one, in which he calls into question his identity. This transcending of his former self renders the work as a whole a
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At the novels completion, Marlow has altered every belief he had formerly held. From a caterpillar at the commencement, cocooning while in the depths and darkness’ of Africa, and flying away from his previous convictions and assertions, Marlow evolves throughout the novel. 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. As cultures collide and the world becomes more diverse, we find ourselves faced with unexpected diversions. We must organize our minds to a steadfast state in which we devote ourselves to ourselves, such as Marlow has done. We must collect ourselves throughout our personal tribulations and cultivate new selves from
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