A reading that demonstrates out of the ordinary behavior is the novella Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness is about Marlow’s voyage as a skipper on a steamboat into the African jungle who is searching for Kurtz, an ivory trader. Marlow is sent to bring Kurtz back to civilization.
Published in the year 1902, Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” is a story told in the frame narrative voice. The story talks about a voyage the main character, Marlow, embarks on. Throughout Conrad’s novella, Marlow journeys up the Congo River which is assumed to be in Africa. “Heart of Darkness” can be observed and viewed as a mythical journey in search of oneself as well as the search for what we believe is the truth. Marlow also travels up the Congo River in pursuit of a white man, Kurtz, who is an ivory trader.
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.
In this novel he speaks through his main character Marlow about white settlers colonizing Africa, harming, exploiting and, portraying the natives in many inhumane ways. Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian author, found this work particularly racist and wrote a response to it, “An Image of Africa”. Through Achebe’s work, we realize Heart of Darkness contained a single story leaving naive readers with a single image of African natives.
Jennifer Brooks associates Heart of Darkness with dreams and dream-like imagery through Marlow, Kurtz, and the Congo. The underlying truths for Marlow are repressed by him as his realization of Kurtz’ “Horror” is he is part of it himself. Brooks’ article is filled with associations of Sigmund Freud to the Conrad’s novella in which Marlow’s abstract narrative portrays dream-thoughts as it does in Interpretation of Dreams. Marlow is unable to grasp what he see’s in Africa and describes it in hazy-like imagery to the reader. Though, there is meaning to this dream-like presentation in that it is the truth of the Congo.
Within chapters sixteen to twenty-four, light and dark function as symbols with very specific meaning. The light generally represents “good,” as well as the approval of God and happiness. The darkness, however, is associated with “bad,” as well as concealment of sin and even evil. The two are pitted against one another throughout the novel. Within the assigned chapters, the light and the dark illustrate conflicts between characters as and add to the importance of specific events.
Heart of Darkness is a novella about colonialism, about darkness and light, and about the modifications that arise inside one person while being away from its traditional society. The colonizers were expected to treat the Africans as slaves, to live among them, to make from the massive, dark forest their home. It altered one’s way of being by treating the other with such contempt and even the darkness of forest strikes against the colonizer’s honorable intentions and personality traits by turning the white men into savages. This novella unlike the others of its time stresses about the altered ego instead of the changes happened in the colonized territory. As the novella is based on contrasts, the two characters are also desplayed on the one hand, having distinctions and on the other hand, being similar.
11 As Marlow continues his way up the Congo River, he encounters decay and death at an alarming rate. He was overwhelmed by the horror of the death and destruction he sees: It is here that Marlow first encounters the heart of darkness and slowly begins to realize what it is. Marlow is once again faced with this overwhelming sense of decay and death when he reaches the outer station of the company, he encounters a group of native African people who have basically been enslaved in a chain gang; furthermore, he sees that also the Europeans are suffering as well: disease, biting insects, and outrageous heat. This scene at the outer station is an important one because it shows that not only is the African people
At the Company’s headquarters, Marlow meets a doctor who “… in the interests of science, to measure the crania of those going out there” and admits later on that the changes happen inside. At the headquarters, Marlow sees a map “marked with all the colours of a rainbow.” This map shows the colonial powers present within the continent. As Marlow journeys to his destination, he reaches the Company’s Outer Station upon which he sees images of devastation brought about by the actions of the Company. He sees a chain-gang of six black men “balancing small baskets full of earth on their heads” being guarded by another African wearing a uniform and armed with a rifle. He sees broken machinery and black people who are dying slowly who Marlow describes as “nothing but black shadows of disease
The darkness is said to be full of savages and cannibals it is further emphasized as being the uncivilized part of the world where people eat people and the savages wait in the trees and in the darkness. Africa in this novella is portrayed as “the Heart of Darkness” the place where the men’s inner evil is exposed, this is done through their thoughts and actions. The contrast between the Thames River and the Congo River is also made evident in the novella. The Thames River is described as calm and peaceful. It is viewed as a city of light that is not mysterious.