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“Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad Sample Essay

Novels do non hold to be long to hold believable literary virtue. Such is the instance with Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness is rather short. yet superior and challenging. due to the content of the novel.

Heart of Darkness is fascinating. like Hamlet or like a Kafka novel. in that readers taken by power of the narrative ne’er experience rather satisfied with their efforts to intellectualize the experience ( Adelman 8 ) .

Heart of Darkness was written during the clip of British imperialism and utmost development of Africans in the Congo. The British were working the Africans in an attempt to pull out tusk from the crude jungle. Throughout the novel. Conrad expresses his disfavor with the ‘civilized’ white people working the ‘savage’ black Africans. Conrad besides uses several literary devices in his authorship to portray and express several messages. The authorship manner. techniques. construction and subjects in Heart of Darkness all combine to make one of the most celebrated. respected and cryptic novels of all clip. Conrad wrote an ultimate mystery for readers to construe and critically analyse for old ages to come.

Conrad’s excellence in manner is really controversial ; some believe that he is “a literary genius” ( Adelman 16 ) . while others “criticize him for being limited. pretentious and vague” ( ( Adelman 16 ) . Throughout the novel. Conrad uses ample sums of descriptive linguistic communication. graphic imagination. and powerful symbolism. The obscure portion is that he leaves it up to the reader to construe his cryptic and ‘unspeakable’ mystery. Conrad’s descriptive linguistic communication in Heart of Darkness is present from the beginning to the terminal. With the gap paragraphs depicting the Nellie. a “cruising yawl. ” the conditions. the position of the Thames River and London as a group of work forces sit. waiting for the tide to alter. Marlow is invariably depicting the jungle river and environments that he encounters. Conrad’s usage of centripetal effects are first-class. From the Beginning. readers seem to be on the Nellie with Marlow and his companions. The reader is fundamentally in the hot jungle. going up the baleful river into no-man’s land. The reader sees. hears and odors everything that Marlow describes ;

Marlow tells us that he was struck by the sounds of the Congo night…That sexual shudder of ‘sinking’ and ‘swelling’ sounds less swoon to Marlow after he has arrived at the Station and reached the pitch of his obfuscation and desperation ( Glassman 206 ) .

“The odors of the Congo splash Marlow. and unfastened him to the unusual beauties of the jungle night” ( Glassman 206 ) . The imagination that Conrad uses is really graphic. Marlow provides images of the boat which Marlow and his crew took up the river. Marlow besides provides images of each character. like the comptroller for case ;

I saw a high starched neckband. white turnups. a light apalca jacket. white pants. and stained boots. No chapeau. Hair parted. brushed. oiled. under a green-lined sunshade held in a large white hand…and had a pen holder behind his ear ( Conrad 22 ) .

One of the chief stylistic devices that define Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is his usage of symbolism in it. The symbolism in Heart of Darkness is what makes the novel so astonishing and perplexing. Everything in the novel symbolizes. alludes to. or allegorizes something in some manner. From the manner Marlow is sitting in the Nellie. to the changeless repeat of darkness or light symbols. to the different representations of characters. viz. Kurtz. all average something and do an effort to show Conrad’s thoughts and messages. The symbols were a manner of seeking to acquire across what went on in his head. Conrad seems to be on another degree of enlightenment with this novel and he is seeking to go through it on to others. The most enigmatic portion is that the symbols could intend so many different things.

The Heart of Darkness: the rubric is amply equivocal. ‘The bosom of darkness’ could intend the centre of a dark ( vague. Mysterious. sinister or immorality ) topographic point. In the narrative. it is applied to cardinal Africa. but London is described as the centre of ‘brooding gloom’ . The phrase could besides intend the ‘person’s bosom which is dark’ ( vague. cryptic. sinister or immorality ) . and therefore anticipates the word picture of Kurtz. Darkness besides connotes in the narrative: the decease of the person or of the human race ; ‘dark ages’ between periods of civilisation ; the detestable ; the primordial ; the cryptic ; the unknown ; the mapped. Light is associated with civilisation and truth but besides with brightness and the destructiveness of fire. Whiteness is associated with lip service. tusk. castanetss. decease. fog and the chartless. The rubric therefore competently introduces the ambiguities. paradoxes and mystery of the narrative ( Conrad 97 ) .

Conrad’s manner is defined by his huge vocabulary and bid in the English linguistic communication. by the imagination he utilizes and the monolithic sums of symbolism that he uses. This is what genuinely distinguishes Joseph Conrad as a great author. and sets Heart of Darkness above the remainder.

Conrad’s technique is rather suiting for the narrative and the subjects he is composing about in Heart of Darkness. There is a storyteller on the Nellie who is listening to Marlow who is stating the narrative. “story within narrative within narrative. And as if these narratives were non plenty. we will detect other 1s as we read on. all of them. like Marlow’s journey itself. bearing in upon Kurtz” ( Fothergill 11 ) . He uses a first individual point of position. Heart of Darkness is one big flashback as Marlow describes his narrative to his companions on the Nellie. Within Marlow’s narrative there are several boding narratives. “There’s the self-contained mini-story about Fresleven ( with disturbing analogues to Kurtz ) and besides others which we might name proto-narratives: other people’s version of Kurtz and his ‘achievements’” ( Fothergill 11 ) . When Marlow tells his narrative he does non cognize Kurtz. By making this. Conrad forces the readers to larn with Marlow as he learns about Kurtz in these ‘proto-narratives’ about him.

The Manager of the Central station. the Russian Harlequin. and. on Marlow’s return. to Europe. the Company representative. the ‘cousin’ . the journalist. and the Intended – all these offer Marlow ( and us ) their skeletal narratives of Kurtz” ( Fothergill 11 ) .

Marlow’s credibleness as a storyteller and narrative Teller seem dependable through the storyteller who introduces Marlow. he is a roamer. an adventurer. But unlike other mariners. he is one who embraces instead than complacently ignores the unknown and uncertain…Marlow’s narratives do non incorporate their significance positively. at the terminal of their relation. like an reply to a conundrum or a moral ticket to a adage. but instead evoke in class of telling” ( Fothergill 18 ) .

Throughout the novel. readers learn more and more approximately Kurtz as Marlow moves up the river. Through this motion readers besides see character development of Marlow. Marlow is a worker. In fact. he needs work to maintain himself from falling into the ‘impenetrable darkness’ that Kurtz is in and that all the other colonialists were falling into. Marlow’s work wonts ( his shield to the insanity ) is what makes the narrative plausible. If Marlow didn’t have this firewall. he would hold gone insane with the remainder of them and the narrative would ne’er hold been told. Marlow still teeters on the threshold of insanity of that impenetrable darkness. “He still thinks that working hard he can defy their ‘brooding appeal’ ; but the Congo–and his secret responsive self–are far excessively strong for his naif and assumptive devices ( Glassman 210 ) . With each character that Marlow brushs. they become more and more sinister as he travels up river ( closer to Kurtz ) . Heart of Darkness is presented in a alone manner ; several different narrations and a ‘story within a narrative within a story’ which provides readers with cryptic ‘figure it out for yourself’ reading. All in all. Heart of Darkness is really open-ended.

The fresh construction is in conformity with the subjects and word picture. It consists of three chief parts: the get downing narrative. Marlow’s narrative. and a concluding narrative. Within Marlow’s Story there are three chief parts: the beginning in ‘civilization’ ( Belgium ) . the travel up the river making a concluding finish. and eventually. the return to Europe. Within the going up the river there are three Stationss: the Coastal Station. the Cardinal Station. and the Inner Station. The construction of this short novel seems to do it experience rather a spot longer than it is. Marlow is stuck in a ‘savage’ jungle ; stuck with an unqualified Manger who will non provide studs to repair the boat. Through this journey. Marlow goes through passages of artlessness and ignorance to see and enlightenment. This is shown when Marlow sees the Russian. The Russian is what Marlow was like before he traveled up river. naif and fascinated.

“The boat is hailed by a immature Russian who is a apparition of the adult male Marlow himself was before his Conga experience…restored to the artlessness he had known before the incubus journey” ( Adelman 75 ) . One could besides state that Heart of Darkness travels in a circle. merely in the terminal. Marlow is enlightened. He starts in civilisation and ends back in civilisation. about like the Manager. the journey and Kurtz ne’er existed. The lone individual who knows that it did be ( and that the existent narrative ) is Marlow. The fresh concludes with the group of companions sitting on the Nellie proceeding back into a topographic point of ‘darkness’ ( London ) . Heart of Darkness has a construction that coincides on several degrees with the characters and the subjects within the novel. Conrad is successful in making the construction of this novel so that it ends with an air of enigma and a demand to seek out the deep significance he has laid within the novel.

The one major subject in Heart of Darkness is centered around self find and the darkness of man’s inner ego. The novel is filled with symbolism of darkness from the rubric to the really last words of the novel. “seemed to take besides into the bosom of an huge darkness. ” Conrad compares and contrasts the symbols covered before in this essay of darkness and visible radiation. Marlow’s full journey is symbolized as a journey of the find of man’s inner truth. “Heart of Darkness resembles traditional histories of the hero’s descent to the underworld merely in the most general sense” ( Adelman 54 ) . Marlow begins on the outside and works his manner in. The Coastal Station is on the surface where Conrad begins his journey. He meets the Accountant there and hears the for the first clip of Kurtz. Marlow so becomes absorbed in meeting Kurtz.

Marlow becomes obsessed with meeting Kurtz. It is a conspicuous alteration in his intents that. as he steams up river to alleviate the Inner Station. as the Congo’s ‘inner truth’ more and more disturbs his already devastated particularity” ( Glassman 217 ) .

As Marlow increasingly gets deeper and deeper into the jungle. everything seems to acquire darker. The jungle is ever described as an impenetrable darkness. The river becomes more unsafe and dangerous.

in his hunt for Kurtz Marlow is made to face trials more demanding by far than those he has experienced at the Stations down river–tests so bloodcurdling in their quality that he can barely happen linguistic communication to remember them ( Glassman 219 ) .

At the Central Station. Marlow meets the Manager. The Manager is a shallow and covetous adult male. “Marlow discovers that his soft-shell clam is at the underside of the river. He suspects that the director of the station. covetous of Kurtz and wishing him dead. intentionally had it wrecked” ( Adelman 62 ) . Marlow attempts to halt himself from turning dark every bit good. by making more work “The longer he is in Africa. and the nearer he is to his meeting with Kurtz. the shakier he feels. and the more the wilderness appears to him a threatening. degrading topographic point. Marlow’s interrupting point is anticipated as the designation between him and Kurtz is intensified” ( Adelman 64 ) . Marlow is invariably associating the journey up river as a return to prehistoric times “as Marlow steams up river. steams of all time deeper into the bosom of the Congo’s ‘prehistoric’ life. he feels a motion of soul” ( Glassman 209 ) . It is as if the inner truth and inherent aptitudes of adult male are still linked to prehistoric times. Before Marlow reaches Kurtz. the boat is surrounded by a dense fog and the boat is attacked

But these concealed Bankss. these secret snags ; this deathly dark. this choking fog…at last confirm Marlow in everything he most feared. Their awful images persuade him that work forces are so ‘very little. really lost. ’ neither individuals nor power. that work forces so are morally undistinguished and insufficiently alive. ” ( Glassman 222 ) .

Finally. Marlow reaches the Inner Station where he meets Kurtz. Throughout the novel. Kurtz is repeatedly symbolized as the Satan of all Satans. Kurtz has already done this hunt for the interior truth of adult male. found its darkness. and embraced it in his illustriousness. “ ( Kurtz ) becomes monstrously devoted to the satisfaction of his passions” ( Adelman 68 ) . He had an full folk of adherents. Kurtz has seen the horrors that he and mankind commit. regardless of that. Kurtz continues to perpetrate and execute these horrors. He can separate right from incorrect but he still embraces the immorality. Kurtz’ deceasing words. “the horror” are what sum up the subject of self find. The horror is refering to the horrors that mankind commits and acknowledges but ignores. Marlow overcomes this darkness and survives cognizing Kurtz and his immoralities. “As we observe. Marlow. no longer immature and exuberant after his return to Europe. but a adult male older. misanthropic and embittered” ( Adelman 79 ) . He returns to civilisation and knows a great trade more about adult male and his inner truth and about Kurtz than anybody else. “The vision he has acquired. his enlightenment. is tragic because it implies a metaphysical conception…have fostered a decease want. an instinctual demand to rule or to be destroyed” ( Adelman 80 ) .

The full symbol of this novel is that Marlow goes on his journey of self find.

Heart of Darkness is apparently the narrative of Marlow’s quest for Kurtz. Actually Marlow is questing for himself: ‘the most you can trust. ’ he says. ‘is some cognition of yourself’ ( Harkness 127 ) .

He is on the superficial degree acquiring his first gustatory sensation of the darkness within work forces ( the Coastal Station ) about to continue on a deep. psychological journey. Marlow begins to see inside adult male and himself. and it does non look pleasant. Marlow becomes more and entrenched in the darkness of adult male ( going down river ) . He reaches a fog which lifts when he is on the threshold of detecting the dark bosom of adult male. Then he is hit by the darkness. seeing full good the horrors. the ‘unspeakable rites’ and ‘unspeakable rituals’ that are inside the bosom of adult male. Marlow overcomes this darkness and for that becomes enlightened and knowing. He returns back to civilisation cognizing the darkness in the psyche of adult male that civilised people do non cognize of. They are still on the superficial degree that Marlow was on when he foremost began. The inquiry is. was he was ‘enlightened’ for the better portion? This subject is what fascinates the critics and has influenced many people to touch to Heart of Darkness in their plants.

Conrad’s literary mastermind is shown through Heart of Darkness. His extended vocabulary supports readers looking in the lexicon. It is in full force in this fantastic piece of literature. Conrad presents a good organized. deeply thought out piece of work. He uses astonishing manner. uncomparable technique. alone and consolidative construction. and a deep. upseting subject. The subject uses the manner. technique and construction to stress its significance. Teodor josef konrad korzeniowski shows his alone mastermind and his complete enlightenment the lone manner he can. Many readers will non or will non be able to construe the power and significance in this novel. This essay critically analyzes the rudimentss of the novel and the chief devices that Conrad uses. It is safe to state that the readings of this novel will ne’er discontinue. It is such an equivocal novel that all the different positions seem wash uping. Many readers will “never experience rather satisfied with their efforts to intellectualize the experience” ( Adelman 8 ) . Overall. readers must construe for themselves which significances Conrad intended or if he intended all the significances. This deep novel by Joseph Conrad is non easy to read but is valuable cognition once it is read.


Adelman. Gary. Heart of Darkness: Search for the Unconscious. Boston: Twayne Publishers. 1987.

Conrad. Joseph. The Heart of Darkness. Ed. Cedric Watts. London: Everyman. 1995.

Fothergill. Anthony. Open Guides to Literature: Heart of Darkness. Philadelphia: Open University Press. 1989.

Glassman. Peter J. Language and Being: Joseph Conrad and the Literature of the Personality. New York and London: Columbia: University Press. 1976.

Tindall. W. Y. “The Duty of Marlow. ” In Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and the Critics. Ed. Bruce Harkness. Belmont. California: Wadsworth Publishing Company Inc. . 1968.

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