People’s restraint can either save their lives or put them at great risk of dying. A person’s ability to restrain themself plays an important role when exploring the unknown. In the novel, Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, restraint plays a major role throughout the novel. Restraint threads its way through the three parts of Heart of Darkness; people who have been in chaos learn restraint, whereas people who have been in civilization cannot control themselves. Fresleven, the cannibals, the helmsman, and Kurtz all show restraint or the loss of restraint in the novel.
Marlow’s story begins with him telling the story of Fresleven, a European who lost restraint and could not control himself. Fresleven, being born into civilization, never …show more content…
The helmsman died because he could not restrain himself when the natives attacked: “Poor fool! If he had only left that shutter alone, he had no restraint, no restraint- just like Kurtz” (46). Marlow notices the lack of restraint the helmsman had. If he restrained himself he could have been alive. Conrad wanted to show how restraint can be influenced by civilization. The helmsman became too close to civilization, which causes a lack of restraint.
Over time, Kurtz slowly lost his restraint due to being in an uncivilized habitat. Kurtz first wanted to make profit for the company and allowed himself to be controlled by ivory. The manager says: “Mr. Kurtz lacked restraint in the gratification of his various lusts, that there was something wanting in him- some small matter, which when the pressing need arose, could not be found under his magnificent eloquence” (53). Kurtz’s desires caused him to lose control and lessen his grip on reality. Marlow sees that Kurtz has no restraint left in him: “He struggled with himself, too. I saw it, I heard it. I saw the inconceivable mystery of a soul that knew no restraint, no faith, and no fear, yet struggling blindly with itself” (61). Kurtz gives up by the end of the book. He has no more left to give, and has allowed himself to succumb to the chaos that engulfs him. The disorder and confusion of Africa has corroded Kurtz and has caused him to lose restraint.
Joseph Conrad shows how easily people can lose their restraint. Only
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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.
“Oh, propriety...We’re always so concerned with propriety. Even in total madness, we will stick to our hierarchies and chains of command.” This concept--human concern with fitting societal standards and hierarchies--is a clear theme in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Even as ivory transporter Charles Marlow journeys into Central Africa, a land described as “mad” and “savage”, those around him remain primarily interested in maintaining a set image and social standards, a strange concept amidst such perceived “madness”. This obsession with propriety in Heart of Darkness is seen through the anomalous character development of both Kurtz and Marlow, and the Company’s response. Overall, this contributes to a larger meaning explored by the novel--the question of good and evil and whether or not the two are truly distinguishable.
He carries this kind and chivalrous thought with him when he visits Kurtz's Intended, and with it in mind cannot bring himself to shatter her beautiful fantasy world by telling her the truth of Kurtz's last words. In his own declaration Marlow claims there is a taint of death in lies. If he had been completely truthful with the Intended and told her Kurtz's actual last words, "The horror, the horror" (Longman 2240), he would have given her more than a taint of death. He would have shared with her some of the mental images his imagination had spawned since he heard those final words. He would have given her a 'flavour of mortality', which he claims to hate and detest in the world. Hate and detest are very powerful words which would
Originally Kurtz had good intentions in journeying to the Congo. He honestly believed in using the ivory trade to better the social and economic aspects of the region, while simultaneously helping the natives to become civilized and part of the world which he thought was superior. Kurtz is only able to impress his own beliefs and ideals upon society and therefore help it however, by taking control of the people of the society. He establishes this control in the
In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad suggest that true human existence cannot prevail productively without the dynamics of society. Throughout numerous scenes in the novel, Conrad stresses the necessity of societal restraints through Kurtz’s inability to prosper as a human being when he is removed from the expectations of civilization. In the scene above, Marlow’s myopic observations of Kurtz reveals Conrad’s theme by illustrating the annihilation of Kurtz’s essential human characteristics as he descends into a barbaric lifestyle absent of the norms of society. Not only does the above scene support Conrad’s main theme, but it portrays his writing style, characterization of Marlow, and symbolism as used throughout the novel.
Kurtz’s lack of restraint and hunger for ivory consumes not only his soul but drains all of his physical existence. Upon seeing him, Marlow states, “I could see the cage of his ribs all astir, the bones of his arm waving (126)”. Conrad focuses on the physical features of Kurtz to display the madness that has consumed him. However, though Kurtz’s body is deteriorating, Kurtz’s mind continues to thrive. Conrad shows this in Marlow’s shock of witnessing a flame of passion that remains in Kurtz’s eyes as he converses without signs of exhaustion (126). Conrad continues to describe Kurtz as a shadow composed of tranquility and satisfaction. Conrad’s incorporation of this detail signifies the evil and greed that consumes Kurtz and is reflected through his physique. However, the power of Kurtz’s presence is personified through the action of his words. As the strength in his voice captures Marlow’s attention, it merely reflects his influence upon his followers. The power reflected through his voice displayed his confidence as well as his position as a leader for the natives. Hi demeanor displays an air of arrogance that makes others feel less equal to him. Those who follow him fear him, but also continue to respect him.
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.
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 story about a man named Marlow and his Journey into the African Congo. By reading the novel and understanding all the imagery Conrad has inserted, we can get a better understanding of the
"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
Marlow tells us about the Ivory that Kurtz kept as his own, and that he had no restraint, and was " a tree swayed by the wind” (Conrad, 209). Marlow mentions the human heads displayed on posts that “showed that Mr. Kurtz lacked restraint in the gratification of his various lusts” (Conrad, 220). Conrad also tells us "his... nerves went wrong, and caused him to preside at certain midnight dances ending with unspeakable rights, which... were offered up to him” (Conrad, 208), meaning that Kurtz went insane and allowed himself to be worshipped as a god. It appears that while Kurtz had been isolated from his culture, he had become corrupted by this violent native culture, and allowed his evil side to control him.
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.
Beyond the shield of civilization and into the depths of a primitive, untamed frontier lies the true face of the human soul. It is in the midst of this savagery and unrelenting danger that mankind confronts the brooding nature of his inner self. Joseph Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness, is the story of one man's insight into life as he embarks on a voyage to the edges of the world. Here, he meets the bitter, yet enlightening forces that eventually shape his outlook on life and his own individuality. Conrad’s portrayal of the characters, setting, and symbols, allow the reader to reflect on the true nature of man.
The two major themes of Heart of Darkness are the conflict between “reality” and “darkness,” and the idea of restraint and whether or not it is necessary. Conrad’s passage describing the restraint of the hungry cannibals exemplifies both themes: It describes how reality shapes human behavior, and contrasts the characters of Kurtz and Marlow. “Reality,” as it is used here, is defined as “that which is civilized.”
It has been said that although Conrad may not have been 'the greatest novelist, he was certainly the greatest artist every to write a novel';. I feel that this is an apt description of Conrad's writing style in Heart of Darkness (1902), as he paints many verbal pictures by using expressive words and many figurative descriptions of places and people. An extensive use of words relating to colour, is evident throughout the novella. The idea of darkness (and light) is emphasized from the title of the novella, and continues to play an important role throughout in the story .