Heart of Darkness Essay

2840 Words12 Pages
Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness does not explicitly deal with a struggle between war and peace: the conflict is a psychological, moral one; however, the text’s implications that society is a thin veil over our innate savagery, the darkness at the roots of Western civilization, reveals disturbing truths about the peaceful, orderly lives we take for granted. The key to understanding Conrad’s novella lies in ascertaining the metaphorical significance of the “heart of darkness,” a search which may yield an answer as complex and obscure than any geographical, sociological or psychological solution.      Since its publication, several critics have categorized Heart of Darkness as a travelogue, or, at the least, a…show more content…
At the start of the novel…[use of “dark”]…also at the end…[use of “shadow”, “blackness”] After evaluating these examples, it is possible to assume with little doubt that Conrad considers the very bastions of Western civilization breeding places of a dark malady. It may be an overgeneralization to extend the reaches of this “darkness” to mankind as a whole since the areas “afflicted” with it are considered civilized, limiting it essentially to the Western world.       The Congo in Africa is home to dark native peoples that are portrayed with a natural, primal quality, a stark contrast to the civilizations in Europe. This is the setting for British imperialism at work. It is therefore the setting where the supposed sophistication of civilized men is deconstructed, and all men are revealed to share a common darkness. Africa and its inhabitants show an external darkness, while it is revealed that the colonizers contain darkness within. Heart of Darkness is a criticism of imperialism that uses the metaphor of darkness in the human heart to show the similarity between cultural groups perceived as different; elements of racism are used inside the darkness metaphor to emphasize anti-imperialism. Darkness and its opposite, light, are contrasted in Heart of Darkness to reveal the irony of imperialism. Traditionally, light and darkness represent
Open Document