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Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness Essay

610 words - 2 pages

Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad, like many authors, used his own experiences for the basis of his novels. Specifically, Conrad’s journey on the Congo River as captain of a West African river steamer formed the basis for his novel Heart of Darkness. In this novel, the narrator of the story, Marlow, Conrad's protagonist, travels up the Congo in search of Kurtz, an ivory trader, and eventually ends up in the “heart of darkness.” Conrad also used his pessimistic view of life for the basis of Heart of Darkness. Conrad’s fatalistic attitude is evident when he explained to his friend R. B. Cunninghame Graham: “There is...a machine. It evolved itself...and behold!--it knits....It knits us in and it knits us out. It has knitted time, space, pain, death, corruption, despair and all the illusions--and nothing matters. I'll admit however that to look at the remorseless process is sometimes amusing.” In the Heart of Darkness, three evident themes include death, corruption, and despair. During Marlow’s journey into the “heart of darkness,” death, corruption, and despair became the manifest themes of the novel.

First of all, Marlow came face to face with death several times throughout his voyage. Marlow finds out about the death of Kurtz, the climax of the novel, when the manager’s boy said to Marlow, “Mistah Kurtz—he dead” (Conrad 64). Another death occurs when the attack on the steamer leaves the helmsmen dead with “the shaft of a spear in the side just below the ribs” (Conrad 64). Marlow decides to “[tip] him overboard” because “if [his] late helmsmen was to be eaten, the fishes alone should have him. He had been a very second-rate helmsmen” (Conrad 47). Second, corruption overshadowed all other themes as the major...

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