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Voyage To Darkness Essay

1017 words - 5 pages

"Life is a journey that must be traveled no matter how bad the roads and accommodation," Oliver Goldsmith, an Irish novelist and poet, once reiterated this universal philosophy. His philosophy has been seen and observed throughout many ages of life and works of literacy including Joseph Conrad's famous work Heart of Darkness. In Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad's protagonist, Marlow, is forced to deal with an environment that he has never encountered. Throughout his journey, Marlow faces dark experiences that unveil the true nature of human beings that ultimately challenges his social values.
The mass extermination of the African population that Marlow notices on his journey compel him contemplate on where he stands on events like genocide. Kurtz, a man described as gone mad, utters the words "The horror! The horror!" to Marlow as a indication of the genocide that has been in happening in Africa. (Conrad pg 68). Kurtz words references the awfulness of the civilized on the account that they treat primitive worlds like garbage. Developed society not only exploit the resources of less urbanized but they kill millions as seen in the novel. The mass genocide of Africans in Heart of Darkness demonstrate how even the most develop are capable of death. Ironically they are not civilized, instead they are their own savages. The jungle is where "...death is so treacherously slurred with life..." and their is 'life-in-death..." (Stewart 27). As Marlow heads deeper into the river, life is closely related to death. In essence, just like life and death are intermingled, so are Marlow codes of values. The dark cruel action of slaughter expose and challenges Marlow's moral/social values. Death and genocide that Marlow sees must be dealt with by him and in doing so he must push aside some of his social values. Dealing with new situation took a great of will power for Marlow because he could have easily gone primitive like Kurtz. Instead Marlow does not go savage like Kurtz he deals with death by thinking of it as an ordinary action. The civilized world , with advancement of technology, has yet to find a way to stop the urge to killing that human nature has set on human beings.
Imperialism a theme seen throughout Heart of Darkness is comprehended by Marlow at the end of the novel as terrible. Chinua Achebe argues that "...Western psychology" sets Africa as "a foil to Europe" where "Europe's own state of spiritual grace will manifest"(Achebe 1). This idea of taking over inferior countries has been always been practiced for as long as their where countries or people who believed they where superior to everyone else. Marlow not only sees imperialism but is involved with the system because he is employed by the Belgian company. Initially Marlow is not aware of what he is doing and what his business was in Africa. As he meets Kurtz on his journey he realizes just like the ivory company of Belgium he had no business in Africa. He in essence was a...

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