Heart of Darkness Symbolic Analysis

Category: Heart of Darkness
Last Updated: 07 Jul 2020
Essay type: Analysis
Pages: 3 Views: 139

In the novel Heart of Darkness the focus is mainly about the situation of imperialism in that time period. It describes the hypocrisy of imperialism, the madness as a result of imperialism, and the absurdity of evil. In reality the book is about much more than that. Marlow is the narrator and throughout the novel his visions and thoughts about himself change greatly as he endures the journey of self-discovery. In the beginning Marlow feels lost in his life; the main focus in life to him was being a sailor on the steamboat.

Marlow is very naive and has not seen as much of life as he should be seeing in order to expand his overall knowledge of the world. Marlow describes the ship and the ocean as if it was the only thing he had ever seen in his whole life. (Part 1) The fact that the beginning starts with Marlow’s description of the sea, and the facts of imperialism do not start until later indicates that imperialism was not the only reason Joseph Conrad wrote the novel. Imperialism is the policy of extending authority of a nation over foreign countries.

In this case Marlow is traveling up the river to the Inner station where he encounters cruelty and torture of the salvages. (Part 1) The men who work for the Company describe what they do as “trade,” and their treatment of native Africans is part of a benevolent project of “civilization. ” In reality what they are doing is taking the ivory by force in command to the orders that Kurtz demands. Kurtz knows what he is doing but he makes the other men believe it is not out of cruelty or imperialism.

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Through all of this Marlow is stuck in the middle because he is blinded by the good that is said of Kurtz and he refers to him as a remarkable man (Part 3), which ends up hurting his relationship with the rest of the company because they know the truth and they strongly disagree. Marlow does not know until the end of the book exactly how mad and narcissistic Kurtz really is and the damage he is doing by trying to get everything his own way.

All of the problems that accumulate because of the imperialistic actions of Kurtz make Marlow less close-minded and he finds within himself his own voice and opinion. Another reason why I feel that the book is not just about imperialism, but also about Marlow’s journey to self-discovery is that Kurtz is an unknown character to Marlow and he learns more about him as the story goes forth. “I had heard about some man named Kurtz who was ill but I did not know what exactly he did or how important he was,” (Part 1&2).

At first, very little is known about Kurtz, the only description Marlow has of him was that he was an important person to the company. Kurtz was the way that the author incorporated the idea of imperialism into the novel because he was trying to rule an export from a foreign country which would eventually lead to the rule of the country itself. ”You know Kurtz, he is very important and he is ill right now but he must get better,” (Part 2). The station manager states something like that to Marlow which tells him exactly how important Kurtz really is in the company.

When Marlow finds two men conspiring (Part 3) it gives him more insight into how different reality was in comparison to his thoughts of how the world worked. Marlow changes a lot throughout the novel. At first he is very naive and inexperienced, but by the end he becomes very brave and strongly opinionated. Although the book seems to be mostly about the concept of imperialism it was actually something that Marlow had to endure in order for Marlow to grow intellectually.

All the things that he saw on the journey to “civilization”, everything he encountered was a new experience that taught him a life lesson. The novel Heart of Darkness was not solely a book about the Congo and Imperialism. It was about a boy who became a man in the trials and tribulations of the attempt of his Company’s head man to rule a country under his command. By the end of the imperialistic battle, between all the hardships of life at sea, conspiracy against the boss, and the extremely cruel and controversial concept of imperialism, Marlow found his true identity.

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Heart of Darkness Symbolic Analysis. (2018, Sep 22). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/heart-of-darkness-symbolic-analysis/

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