Although Kurtz was alone, that loneliness helped him in the end. Through isolation, Kurtz was able to see who he really was. The main place where Kurtz finds himself is on his deathbed. Marlow says, ‘"But the wilderness had found him out early, and had taken on him a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion. I think it had whispered to him things about himself which he did not know, things of which he had no conception till he took counsel with this great solitude-and the whisper had proved irresistibly fascinating’"(Conrad 57). Marlow is saying that since Kurtz has been in the wilderness,
An interpretation of Marlow's changing feelings towards Kurtz is that he ends up being disgusted and
“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.
Finally the abuse of power in the Congo also demonstrates the hypocrisy of Imperialism through the corruption observed in ‘the company’. Before Marlow travels to the Congo itself he reveals that it was very difficult for him to ascertain a job, which would result in his exploration of the river which had charmed and fascinated him from childhood. It is at this point that Marlow decides to ask his aunt for help, and she manages to get him a job, which will take him where he desires to go. This clearly demonstrates that Marlow’s abuse of power right at the beginning of the book. He then proceeds to judge others who are abusing power when he is in the Congo. For
Joseph Conrad's novella, Heart of Darkness, describes a life-altering journey that the protagonist, Marlow, experiences in the African Congo. The story explores the historical period of colonialism in Africa to exemplify Marlow's struggles. Marlow, like other Europeans of his time, is brought up to believe certain things about colonialism, but his views change as he experiences colonialism first hand. This essay will explore Marlow's view of colonialism, which is shaped through his experiences and also from his relation to Kurtz. Marlow's understanding of Kurtz's experiences show him the effects colonialism can have on a man's soul.
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
After living in the Congo and witnessing what the demands and desires of the sophisticated world can do to a less educated people, Marlow can not stand the capitalistic entitlement that allows the citizens of Brussels egos to float like the gods of Olympus. Marlow’s description of Brussels as ‘sepulchral’ animates the turning of his back on the society that the River Thames once symbolised. Marlow becomes dramatically more understanding of the Congo as his disgust of his once perceived ‘orthodox’ society eats away at him. This altering of opinion highlights the stark change in the meanings of light and dark within Heart of Darkness.
Marlow is a migrant to Africa; he is the ‘other’ however it is the African’s that are portrayed to the reader as the ‘other’ through Marlow’s observations of the stations and river. Initially, Marlow’s accounts
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.
Marlow tells his shipmates on the boat (the Nelly) that the natives passed him “within six inches, without a glance, with that complete, deathlike indifference of unhappy savages” (16). Marlow’s story of his experience exhibits how the Europeans captured the natives and forced them to work; to strip their homeland of its resources and natural beauty. When the Europeans colonize Africa, they do not want to help the African people, but exploit them and put them to work for their own desire of obtaining ivory, rubber, and other resources and goods. As the Europeans imperialize the area, they do not build culture or assist in the development of the Congo region, but break down culture as they enslave the natives and take away their rights, along with stripping the area of resources and natural, earthly beauty, which is conveyed through the cruel physical treatment towards the natives. This treatment is also presented through the literary devices that Conrad decides to use to reveal the experiences of the natives to the
Conrad uses a frame narrative in order to show how conflicted Marlow was during his time in the Congo by using contradictions and unclarity.
Marlow says that, "They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force-- nothing to boast of."(p.58 Heart of Darkness) . Marlow compares his subsequent tale of colonialism with that of the Roman colonization of Northern Europe and the fascination associated with such a voyage. However, Marlow challenges this viewpoint by illustrating a picture of the horrors of colonialist ventures as we delve deeper into the novel. White Europeans are used as symbols of self-deception, and we find that Marlow sees colonization as "robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind - as it is very proper for those who tackle darkness."(p.58 Heart of Darkness) This shows how Conrad feels about colonialism through Marlow, because Marlow feels strongly adverse to the actions of the whites in the Congo.
The constant change in scenery throughout the Heart of Darkness contributes heavily to the meaning of the novel as a whole, for it allows the novel’s author, Joseph Conrad, to expand on the effects the physical journey of travelling through the Congo has on the inner mentailites of the characters- Marlow and Kurtz- in the novel. Conrad’s continuous comparisons between characters, their surroundings, and the plot, create the genuine progression of the novel, while the physical journey that is taken allows the characters to make their own discovery of humankind. As Kurtz’s destiny and the struggles he overcomes go on to deeply affect the two characters’ journey through the story’s plot, as everything in the Heart of Darkness is linked or comes back to Kurtz and all the wrongful actions he has committed in the Congo- as he was the perpetrator of all the darkness in the novel to begin with.
The description shows the bleakness of the Congo compared to the outside world, is one of the first representations of the civilized (or outside) world contrasted to the Congo. The uncivilized/civilized comparison and the descriptions of darkness heighten when Conrad increases the contrast by moving Marlow into an oasis of civilization, the Main Station, a port outpost on the coast of Africa, owned and commanded by white Europeans, but kept alive by the slave work of black natives. Upon setting foot on shore,
The lack of deviation in the novel Heart of Darkness results in a reality fading for Marlow. "I felt often its mysterious stillness watching me at my monkey tricks, just as it watches you fellows performing on your respective tight-ropes for--what is it? Half a crown a tumble---- try to be civil, Marlow"(Conrad 42). Marlow is forgetting his old regularity in London because he is being taken over by Africa 's constant which is dark, and violent, and is referred to as the "heart of darkness". As a result, Marlow becomes attached to the heart of darkness, which can cause a dilemma when he returns to London because it will constantly remind him of horrors that he witnessed. Marlow was aware that his gasp on reality was weakening and thus, felt the need to remind himself to be civil. "They would have been more impressive; those heads on the