The Parallel meaning of the novella with its title- Heart of Darkness
The title, Heart of Darkness, aptly chosen, can be very strongly linked to the novel. IT can be used to describe Joseph Conrad’s views on civilization, the individual mind and the land into which he ventures. These sum up his opinions on the bourgeoise society, uncivilized society and the faults of human nature, linking them to the land under one common theme and thus establishing the title.
‘Heart of Darkness’ can most noticeably describe Marlow’s journey into the heart of the land. A dominant symbol in the novel is of the river- the snake- “But there was in it one river especially, a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled with its head to the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of a land” (71). This river brings him into what has become a ‘dark’ place- “It had ceased to be a blank space of delightful mystery- a white patch for a boy to dream gloriously over. It had become a place of darkness” (71). As in snakes and ladders, you start at the head and go towards the tail. This leads him into evil (snake symbolism), danger (uncoiled), and deeper towards Kurtz, whom the snake has swallowed towards the tail. As he travels along, just as the snake’s body grows thinner, so do the tolerance levels of those who think they are civilized. First Fresleven clubs a black village chief, then a brawl breaks out, and this progresses to all-out insanity, where cannibals, primitives, Inca-like natives and, eventually, Kurtz, reside, where he loses any control he had of his life, doing anything for more ivory, and realizes this in his dying moments. Marlow again mentions heading into the ‘heart of darkness’ when he says, “The best way I can explain it to you is by saying that, for a second or two, I felt as though, instead of going to the centre of a continent, I were about to set off for the center of the earth///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.” (78). Surrounded by dark jungle and distant mist, he knows his journey will be a blind one, one where he is new and possibly unwelcome. Also, by saying he felt he was headed towards the center of the earth rather than the continent, he refers to the earth’s core, where in religion and folklore hell resides. With this, all he knows about his impending journey is that it will be a voyage into chaos and, ultimately, death. Where the setting depicts heading into the heart of darkness, one can only begin to grasp the relationship of inside to outside, of hell to the norm. This is even existent in civilization as well as individuals, who are hosted and somewhat intensified by Conrad’s use of the land.
Although Conrad wrote this novella before the psychological era of Freud (and in some...