Heart of Darkness

Essay by Irusya6University, Bachelor's February 2005

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Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, relies on the historical period of imperialism in order to describe its main character, Charlie Marlow, and his struggle. Marlow's catharsis in the novel, as he goes to the Congo, rests on how he visualizes the effects of imperialism. The main character experienced a "sea change" caused by his exposure to the imperialistic nature of the historical period in which he lived.

The main character, Marlow, is asked by the organization for which he works to travel to the Congo River and report to them about Mr. Kurtz, a top notch officer of theirs. Marlow's journey into the Congo turned out to be meaningful. He experienced the violent threat of nature, the insensibility of reality, and the moral darkness. When his journey was completed Marlow radically changed his views in life.

The important motives in Heart of Darkness connect the white men with the Africans.

Conrad knew that the white men who come to Africa professing to bring progress and light to "darkest Africa" have themselves been deprived of the sanctions of their European social orders. The supposed purpose of the Europeans traveling into Africa was to civilize the natives. Instead they colonized on the native's land and corrupted the natives. It was a terrible time when the Europeans took the natives' land away from them by force. They burned their towns, stole their property, and enslaved them. The African venture was as Marlow's descent into hell. The white men who came to the Congo to bring progress were there in the name of imperialism, and their objective was to earn a substantial profit by collecting all the ivory in Africa.

Also, during his journey Marlow realized the insignificant, mindless, meaningless "labels" which the Europeans used to identify with something. Mr. Kurtz was...