Theme Of Ignorance In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

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Ignorance of another's personal values or situation results in an impassable schism between the two parties. People fail to understand each other, and as such, they regard each other in lower lights. In “Heart of Darkness”, Joseph Conrad, through Marlow, writes his novella through a lense of ignorance and the perspective of the typical white person of the time in order to relate his story to the reader. Marlow and the accountant are contrasted with Kurtz to display the effects of evil on an individual.
The majority of the novella is told from Marlow’s perspective. Initially, Marlow is introduced as a sailor going to work an unknown job for The Company. The odd doctor and strange ladies knitting magnify the mystery of his job. Then his journey
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He claims “ten days [is] an eternity,”(18) when ten days of waiting is trivial compared the terrible lives of the slave labor, where Marlow observes the natives “dying slowly”(17) and likened their demeanor to the “deathlike indifference of unhappy savages”(16). Here, Marlow’s ignorance of the hardships of the natives is dreadfully obvious. He does not consider the struggles of the natives around him as toilsome as his own, even though the reader can clearly see the opposite is true. The native's lives are far worse than Marlow having to idly wait for 10 days before continuing his journey. Marlow represents the reader, so this is Conrad’s first step to making the reader self-aware of their own apathy and dehumanization of black people. In addition, the juxtaposition between what Marlow sees as irritating for himself and the slave’s difficult work demonstrates the different perspectives of the white and black people working for The Company. Conrad’s comment displays how humanity and society have different expectations of different people and how those expectations change the way people are treated. Marlow also struggles to find an appropriate name to call the…show more content…
Throughout the novella, Marlow chases Kurtz, who is seen as a great man and a genius, deeper into the jungle. However, similar to how a robot can become self-aware, Kurtz slowly understands the reality of his actions and the corruption of the white imperialist system that he is part of. Kurtz is described as more of a voice and less of a man. His final words, “The horror! The horror!” (69) illustrate his realization of his own sins and the evilness of everything happening around him. While Marlow just observes many heinous things without reacting, Kurtz experiences similar crimes and made the choice to actively partake in committing such acts. As Marlow travels towards Kurtz, he also travels towards actually understanding the evil of the Congo instead of being ignorant. Kurtz is dehumanized and when he is about to die, Marlow describes the way he speaks. “A voice! a voice! ... to hide in the magnificent folds of eloquence the barren darkness of his heart.” (68) T.S Eliot furthers this idea in The Hollow Men, indicating how Kurtz’s voice is the only part of him that is not empty. Kurtz’s voice attempts to hide his emptiness and darkness that he acquired from his actions in the Congo. Unlike the accountant who remains pristine, Kurtz suffers and dies with his surroundings. In addition, the accountant’s physical appearance is the only part of him worth respecting, but Kurtz is

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