Heart of Darkness is a novel written by Joseph Conrad. The setting of the book is in Belgian Congo, which was the most infamous European colony in Africa. This is a story about the protagonist Marlow’s journey to self discovery, and his experiences in Congo. Conrad’s story explores the colonialism period in Africa to demonstrate Marlow’s struggles. Along the way, he faces insanity, death, his fear of failure, and cultural contamination as he makes his was to the inner station. Conrad through the protagonist and antagonist life explores European imperialism and its effects to Africans.
Marlow is the protagonist in the Heart of Darkness. He is depicted as independent-minded, idealistic, and skeptical about the people around him. Marlow is the narrative teller in the Heart of Darkness who uses his skills to be able to draw the audience to his tale. Marlow tells of his experience and the European prejudices he encountered around the world and this had has made skeptical about imperialism. Marlow has been defeated by the world, and this makes him weary, cynical, and skeptical about everything. Marlow tells the story of Kurtz, and is portrayed by the author as a frequent story teller because he narrates in the majority of the book.
The author paints him as a selfish and steady character. This can be seen whereby while in the outer station, he saw a group of Africans chained together and simply watched them without any compassion. He never felt pity for them but just walked past them as if he had seen nothing. On the other hand, when he crept into the shade, he was met by a group of starving Africans who were dying in the darkness of the trees, and became compassionate by offering one of them a portion of bread. His compassionate side can be seen when he seemed disturbed by what he saw, but later on when out of the shade; he forgot it immediately, and moved on wit his journey as if he saw nothing disturbing.
Marlow had a negative view on colonialism and imperialism. This attitude was shaped through his experiences during his journey to Congo, and how he witnessed many Africans suffer in the hands of the colonialists. In addition, after finding Kurtz and understanding him, he fully understood the effects of colonialism to a man’s soul. Kurtz was a very changed man who had been influenced by colonialism. Kurtz had been influenced by the idea of imperialism which changed his id; he was insane and understood nothing.
Marlow’s Journey to Congo makes him more enlightened to the violence of imperialism on Africans. When he arrives, he says, "acquainted with a flabby, pretending, weak eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly” and states that this devil is as “insidious as he could be too I was only to find out several months later and a thousand miles farther " (Conrad 16). He was referring to imperialism as a devil, and this foreshadows his main view on the issue of imperialism. According to Marlow, imperialism was a pretending devil that pretended...