Journey Archetypes In Heart Of Darkness

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In literature, characters often progress on internal or external journeys with the aim of discovering more about oneself or the world. Stereotypically, journey archetypes are characterized by the protagonist’s need to fulfill a particular quest, traveling through a series of obstacles to arrive at a final destination. In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, a European sailor Marlow, travels through Congo into Africa’s “darkness,” with the aim of discovering ivory. However, oftentimes characters themselves embark on journeys within themselves, attempting to fulfill their desire for self discovery. For instance, in Zora Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, the female protagonists engage in much more internal…show more content…
Dalloway, Sir William Bradshaw craves power and seeks it as he persuades Septimus that he is not mad, viewing him as more of a science experiment rather than a patient to cure. His rejection of the prospect of “madness” and desire to move Septimus away from Reisza reveals he cares little for Reisza and Septimus’s marriage, instead favoring his own personal gain. However, his title as doctor and posh car allow him to coerce Reisza into agreeing to send Septimus away, despite Septimus 's own objections. Again, this creates a paradox of power as status is abused to gain authority, which in turn, leads to more power and an increased status. Likewise, throughout Their Eyes Were Watching God, wealth allows Joe, Janie’s husband and mayor of their contemporary town, to coerce others into adhering to his command. After Joe, an abusive and hubristic husband, sees a fellow town member eyeing Janie’s hair, “He felt like rushing forth with the meat knife and chopping off the offending hand. That night he ordered Janie to tie up her hair around the store. That was all. She was there in the store for him to look at, not those others”(). Throughout the novel Janie’s hair serves to symbolize the ebbs and flows of her oppression and freedom in terms of her relationship status, and with Joe he forces her to tie it up, subjugating her to his own power. This abuse forces Janie to feel as though she is lesser than him. Ultimately, as antagonists seek out power, they…show more content…
In Heart of Darkness, Kurtz gains money and status through his immense ivory imports, thus ensuring he remains a dominant figure in Congo. As Marlow describes his journey, he frequently cites Kurtz as having “no restraint,” detailing Kurtz’s collection of heads on sticks surrounding his living quarters. The repetition of this phrase exhibits that Kurtz is revered and feared among Marlow’s fellow explorers, thus held on a pedestal due to his existing wealth. This fascination with Kurtz inhibits Marlow’s journey for self-discover throughout the Congo as he spends much of the novel searching for Kurtz in pursuit of his own self-actualization, thus avoids true internal
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