Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad influenced the 20th century with its commentary on racism in society and the emptiness of human kind. The novel influenced T.S. Eliot through commentary on human kind and the influence can be found in his poems The Waste Land and The Hollow Men. The savagery of the human race is the main focus of Heart of Darkness. T.S. Elliot understands human kind as a primitive state that, in its most simple form, is a terrible existence. The novel’s savagery greatly influenced Eliot in the writing of these two poems.
In Heart of Darkness the character Marlow travels to the heart of Africa as a steamboat captain employed by “The Company,” a Belgian company that trades ...view middle of the document...
It seems that his time in the jungle as a civilized person around the most barbaric has turned Kurtz into a combination of both savages in the Congo: the white men, with the control and degradation of the natives, but also the primitive savagery of the native people. Kurtz has become a new kind of savage, and he has immense power because of it. The area is described as a country of pure horror. T.S. Eliot understood the horror that Conrad was conveying, and Eliot saw the horror in the regular peoples of the 20th century as well. The emptiness—described by Conrad of the people that were supposed to be the civilized men traveling to a wilderness to tame the savage natives—is the emptiness that Eliot perceives in the rest of society, even in Europe.
The emptiness that Eliot and Conrad both saw is captured in the descriptions of the Thames River by both writers. Conrad begins Heart of Darkness with the description of the Thames
The sea-reach of the Thames stretched before us like the beginning of an interminable waterway. In the offing the sea and the sky were welded together
without a joint, and in the luminous space the tanned sails of the barges drifting up
with the tide seemed to stand still in red clusters of canvas sharply peaked, with gleams of varnished spirits. (Conrad)
This description by Conrad at the beginning of the novel is borrowed heavily from by Eliot as he describes the...