Heart of Darkness is a 146 page, adventure tale novella written by Joseph Conrad. This book can be found in our school library and many other libraries in the area. The novella is about a British sailor named Marlow, who recounts his journey from the Congo River to Europe. On his journey, Marlow meets a man named Kurtz and attempts to bring him back to Europe. Many complications such as attacks from the natives, sickness, and a boat repair set hardships on Marlow’s journey, developing the main character, the theme, and mood of the novella.
The first subject this report will focus on is the main character. The protagonist of this novella is Charlie Marlow; a recurring character from Joseph Conrad’s other books. Marlow is a man who is horrified by the truth and often views events in an unusual way. For example, when Marlow visits Kurtz’s fiancée, he lies and tells her that Kurtz’s final word was her name, instead of “The horror! The ...view middle of the document...
All in all, Marlow is a character who is tainted by the horrid truths of the world (corruption of the higher ups), despite this fact, he is still able to think uniquely, making him a believable character.
The next topic this report will focus on is the theme of the novella. Conrad’s main purpose for writing this novel was to portray the hypocrisy of imperialism and man in the natural world. For example, throughout the novella, the pilgrims (company workers) call their type of work (taking ivory from force), “trade” and their cruel treatment towards the Africans, “civilization.” This emphasizes the importance of the theme because it shows how appalling the mindset of the people of the past was. The people of modern times’ mindset have changed for the better in how we can see the corruptness of our actions. In addition, as Marlow rolls around in the grass, he finds a boiler and says “The thing looked as dead as the carcass of some animal. I came upon more pieces of decaying machinery, a stack of rusty rails.” (Conrad 25). This passage shows the power of nature in how it changes the appearance of things. In this passage, it changes the appearance of a piece of machinery into an animal carcass. Summing it up, the two major messages Conrad is trying to point out is the hypocrisy of the early British men and the effect of nature on man.
The last subject this report will focus on is the mood. The mood throughout the novella is dark and cynical and it stays this way throughout the book. For example, the mood of the novel is introduced when Marlow says, “And this also has been one of the dark places of the earth.” (Conrad 5). This quote from Marlow begins the mood that will stay throughout the entire story. The quote also makes readers wonder why Africa is “one of the dark places on earth” because he says it said in the beginning of the novel. In addition, the dark and cynical mood continues when Mr. Kurtz says his final words, “The horror! The horror!” (Conrad 130). This quote sends chills to the reader’s back because the darkness has overwhelmed Kurtz. The quote also emphasizes that the novella is supposed to be dark, as shown throughout page five to one hundred thirty.