Essay On The Physical Journey In Heart Of Darkness

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Often in literature, the physical journey the main character takes represents their psychological growth. In Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Marlow’s journey into the heart of the Congo represents his progression into the darkest parts of his mind. As he travels deeper into the foreign terrain, he begins to question the world around him and himself. As Marlow begins his journey into the heart of Africa, he holds onto his idealistic belief in imperialism. He believes that although imperialism “is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much... it is [redeemed by] the idea only,” showing that he thinks imperialism is rational if the belief in helping the ‘native’ people is sincere and unselfish (Conrad 7). While in reality, the Europeans exploit Africa so that it benefits only…show more content…
Kurtz in the heart of the Congo, Marlow faces a version of himself that succumbed to the ruleless wilderness. Mr. Kurtz is Marlow’s alter ego: when Marlow witnesses the native African people’s behavior, he wants to join them, but he “had no time,” whereas Mr. Kurtz is alone with the native people for a long period of time which causes him to change who he once was (44). In order to secure their ivory, he uses brutal methods such as putting the heads of those who disobey him on “the stakes” with their faces “turned to [Kurtz’s] house” (71). In a wilderness with no societal rules defining what is wrong or right, Mr. Kurtz loses himself and becomes a tyrant. With no consequences for his actions, Mr. Kurtz makes himself a god, taking “a high seat amongst the devils of the land” (60). At last, when they remove Mr. Kurtz from the Congo, he cannot handle it and sickness overcomes him. Marlow ties his identity so closely to Mr. Kurtz that when Mr. Kurtz dies, “they very nearly buried” Marlow as well (87). By seeing the monster that Mr. Kurtz becomes, Marlow eventually sees his own dark potential. The jungle could just as easily corrupt him and cause his
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