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Ecocriticism And The Heart Of Darkness

761 words - 3 pages

Nature influences the world through its effects on civilization and how it is perceived by society. Ecocriticism is the theory that nature is an important aspect in a literary work that affects the interpretation of the story. Ecocritics view the story through a lens that observes the story’s representation of nature and extend the use of ecocentric concepts for aspects other than nature such as energy, balance, and imbalance. Peter Barry writes of how ecocritics see nature in Beginning Theory, “For the ecocritic, nature really exists, out there beyond ourselves, not needing to be ironized as a concept by enclosure within knowing inverted commas, but actually present as an entity which affects us, and which we can affect, perhaps fatally, if we mistreat it” (Barry 243) The Heart of Darkness contains vast amounts of situations that portray nature as a dark, mysterious, and untamed wild. The fear of the jungle, relationships between natives and the company, and Kurtz’s conversion are three aspects that are affected by the power of nature.
The mysteries of the jungle give Marlow a dark impression by saying, “The edge of a colossal jungle, so dark-green as to be almost black, fringed with white surf, ran straight, like a ruled line, far, far away along a blue sea whose glitter was blurred by a creeping mist” (Conrad 10). The jungle’s vastness is daunting, Marlow’s description states, “Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine” (Conrad 30). He adds to this description by saying, “It made you feel really small, very lost, and yet it was not altogether depressing, that feeling” (Conrad 31). These depictions of nature show the relationship Marlow had with the jungle. Ecocriticism views these examples as the imperialistic view of this wild jungle.
Exotic and sometimes savage natives are involved in many of The Heart of Darkness’s scenes. Savages that attack Marlow and the company seem to be a part of the jungle. They add another deadly element to the jungle, as the company agents view them. The slaves and civilized natives reveal an...

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