Heart Of Darkness Analytical Essay

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In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness there are many ways for a character to lose their mind. That’s why it’s so surprising when it doesn’t happen to Marlow. Marlow, having endured a world’s worth of hardship and pain through the eyes of Africa, really only reaches his breaking point at one moment within the text. This is after his helmsman dies at his feet. His encounter with the uncanny goes on to not only show the slow degeneration of Marlow’s conscious, but to show him as a receptive, fallible, character. To have someone die at your feet is devastating, but to find a way to hide yourself from that sight shows a level of massive psychological trauma. This occurs when Marlow’s helmsman dies from a native weapon. Marlow says, “To tell you the truth, I was morbidly anxious to change my shoes and socks. […]I had found out I had been striving after something altogether without…show more content…
Kurtz is a European, his reason for being in Africa, and the treasure at the end of his trek. On the other hand, Kurtz represents this helmsman’s death. Due to the relationship that was blossoming between Marlow and the helmsman, his death becomes devastating. Marlow then interprets the events as being caused by Kurtz. The thought that all of these things came about simply due to his unconscious need to have a conversation with a stranger is shocking and abrasive to Marlow, but in a sudden realization, he says “(I) became aware that that was exactly what I had been looking forward to – a talk with Kurtz” (62). This internal conflict with the uncanny, the need to hear Kurtz’s voice and the repulsion at the fact that his journey was meant for only that, stem from Marlow’s cognitive switch to dissociate himself with the dead helmsman at his feet. This small flicker of an uncanny encounter finishes with the tossing of his shoes into the river, and serves as a crucial moment of character development within
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