Heart Of Darkness Analysis

935 words - 4 pages

Civilization is not as advanced as first assumed. Joseph Conrad asserts this disheartening message in his novel, Heart of Darkness. The novel follows a European man reliving his journey to the Congo through story telling to his shipmates. Through Marlow’s journey, Conrad reveals the stark contrasts between European civilization and African savagery. Heart of Darkness explores the struggles of different societies with an intention to expose the weaknesses of a complicated imperialistic ideal.
Apart from the discernable darkness depicted in England and Belgium, and the Congo, each places’ surface traits are not comparable. The civilized European cities are portrayed as refined, but also as a ...view middle of the document...

Conrad’s deliberate creation of an antithesis to Europe through Africa exposes the common notion that Africa does not contain humanity, but only carries on in a wild and wretched condition.
Conrad maintains that the differences in advancement between Europe and Africa do not, or at least should not, display superiority in either continent. However, as Marlow suggests, Europe “has been one of the dark places on earth,” but is not anymore, while Africa still is (Conrad 11). Africa’s darkness is not only illustrated by its mysterious atmosphere, but also by its expanding greed and hatred, similar to those qualities of The Company. In a direct parallel to the serene Thames River, the winding, snake like Congo River gives Marlow a feeling of “travelling back to the earliest beginnings of the world,” indicative of the heretofore ‘dark’ Europe (Conrad 35). Moreover, Conrad’s representation of Europe’s past through Africa’s present is analogous by way of the lack of government and the overt savagery in the natives. While the Europeans, and seemingly Conrad, see Africa as asynchronous to their development and time period, it is not. Africa is not trapped in a different time period, and it indeed resides in precisely the same dimension as Europe. Although this is true, Africa is not treated as such, and is accordingly representative of Europe’s primitive and barbaric past. However, Europe is evocative of almost the same concept. Albeit Europe’s accomplished civilization, its barbarity is exhibited by its corrupt power over the natives and its own journey into the “heart of darkness.” Civilization in itself contains negative aspects, including subordination of women and slavery, both of which this European civilization possess. Despite the continent’s obvious differences, they together share a common idea: the darkness of the human soul.
As Marlow travels further into the “heart of...

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