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Heart Of Darkness

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An Analysis of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Heart Of Darkness

Joseph Conrad

Words: 513 (3 pages)

My interpretation of “The Heart of Darkness” is that it portrays a racial narrative that promotes racism. The language used in the story, such as references to light and dark, imply that Joseph Conrad is deeming individuals with darker skin color as “monstrous” and “inhuman.” The quote “The earth seemed unearthly…” (Peg. 1 3) highlights…

Imperialism in “Heart of Darkness”

Heart Of Darkness


Words: 756 (4 pages)

By publicly Marrows experiences in Africa reveal a shadow of the human race that few see. He speaks of the pervasive darkness that shadows all thoughts and actions In Africa. While this darkness can be perceived as the Congo corrupting moral European men, the motif starts in Europe, far before Marrow reaches Africa. Concord’s first-hand…

Views of Racism in Heart of Darkness

Heart Of Darkness


Words: 2316 (10 pages)

What is the meaning of racism? According to the American Heritage Dictionary, it means hatred or intolerance of another race or other races. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, is a treasure for criticism on the authors stand on racism. Many believed him to be a racist writer, and many others believed that the novel…

Heart Of Darkness Pages

Heart Of Darkness

Joseph Conrad


Words: 1266 (6 pages)

Heart of Darkness, a novel written by Joseph Conrad, tells the story of a character named Marrow, who Is recalling his Journey to Africa down the Congo River to a group of seamen on a boat. The story Is being retold by an unknown figure that people refer to as the narrator. Joseph Concord’s characters…

Essay Heart of Darkness

Heart Of Darkness


Joseph Conrad

Words: 907 (4 pages)

According to some critics, Conrad depicts in Heart of Darkness that the darkness of the environment can lead to societal corruption. This suggests that if a place is bleak, its inhabitants will reflect the somber atmosphere, resulting in a feeling of darkness and desolation. For example, on a gloomy rainy day, people often feel tired…

Deeper Than the Surface

Book Review


Heart Of Darkness

Words: 672 (3 pages)

For many years authors of literary workshave used their words to make a point. In a book that has difference charactersthe characters themselves can often make a point for the author just by beingwho they Henry James’ “Daisy Miller” and on James Conrad’s”Heart Of Darkness” each have a character that on the surface appearsto be…

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Heart Of Darkness

Joseph Conrad

Words: 1871 (8 pages)

The earth seemed unearthly. We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there – there you could look at a thing monstrous and free. It was unearthly, and the men were… No, they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of it – this suspicion of…

Of Darkness And Lies

Heart Of Darkness


Words: 735 (3 pages)

A lie is an untruth. It can be a false statement or a statement left unsaidwhich causes someone to be misled. In life, lies are told for many differentreasons. In fiction, they thicken the plot and overall setting of the story. InConrad’s Heart of Darkness, Marlow dislikes lies and therefore only tells two,both in extraordinary…

“Heart of Darkness” Joseph Conrad

Heart Of Darkness

Human Nature


Words: 896 (4 pages)

In the classic novel Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad takes us on a journey intothe soul of man. When the character of Marlow travels into the jungle of Africa to findKurtz, he realizes that he is in a place where the rules of society no longer constrainhuman nature, and the frightening truths about human beings…

Imperialism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Heart Of Darkness


Joseph Conrad

Words: 2717 (11 pages)

 Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness is a detailed examination of the imperialistic movement of European civilization to invade the blank spaces of the global maps and stamp their culture and economic dominance over the colonized region as seen through the travels and travails of the sea-man narrator Marlow in the heart of the Congo…

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Analysis of Novel

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad tells the tale of numerous lives influenced by the desire of power, and the lust of wealth. Marlow is a sailor who ends up far away from home, away from the restrictions society places on an individual. Marlow’s journey takes him through the jungle, in which the only thing controlling your every move is your own restraints. Without control and governing rules Marlow finds that madness prevails at the core of society, in both the heart of the jungle and the civilized European cities. Through Marlow’s discovery of madness in humanity he progressively becomes more deranged by the ominous being of Kurtz, Marlow’s newfound understanding of social status, Kurtz’s madness, and his new outlook on society.

Kurtz’s haunting character is Marlow’s motivation to reach the inner station, and his work is his distraction. Marlow’s trip down the Congo river to the inner station is filled with numerous obscure encounters with nature and man. The closer Marlow gets to the inner station, or in other words the heart of darkness, the more frequent he hears paw- strokes and calls from the wild. The closer to the heart of darkness, the madder you become.

Marlow overhears conversations and stories of Kurtz, and how this all powerful man is seen as a god among the natives. Kurtz’s only desire is to obtain as much ivory as he can, and he does not care at what cost it takes for this to happen. Marlow progressively becomes more paranoid the farther from civilization he gets.

Marlow’s journey down the river entails many oddities, one of which, is the groups of “savages” he encounters. Marlow discovers just how closely related he and the savages are. During this time period very few European men had respect for savages, but Marlow comes to realize that he even has respect for these savages as humans. Kurtz’s lust for wealth and power is portrayed as the darkness fully engrossing his sense of what is morally acceptable.

Kurtz’s desires take over his every being, and his need for ivory his internal drive. This can be judged reasonably because Kurtz discovered who he really was apart from everyone else, even though he turned into a raging lunatic. Kurtz could identify who he was compared to the rest of society, which is more than most people can say for themselves. Could this really be considered so mad?

Kurtz is his own judge of character, or in other words his own discerning eye. Kurtz’s last words: “the horror! the horror!” can be seen as his last judgement of humankind, and how poorly as a society we have evolved. Kutz’s apparent madenning behavior can be considered normal compared to the rest of humankind’s behavior because Kurtz sees society for what it truly is. Maybe Kurtz is sane and the rest of society is insane. The European’s are clueless as to how much more “savage” they are compared to the natives of Africa. The white men are far more lost and clueless of life than the savages who dance around a campfire and scavenge for food. Marlow and Kurtz have always lived in a mad and irrational world, they just lacked the discerning eye to see past the veil that covers it.

Upon Marlow’s return to Europe he has a new outlook on society. Back in the society of frauds, Marlow does not upset the natural order of life. Marlow chooses not to waste his time and try to explain how Europe’s society is mad compared to the savages, and not the other way around. Conrad had a discerning eye, and that is why he was able to write this novel without being biased towards one civilization. Conrad chose Marlow as the narrator with the hope that by the end of the novel its readers would also see society with a discerning eye.

An Analysis of Racism in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness has been studied for years, and is considered a stupendous piece of literature, that should continue to be read and analyzed. In Chinua Achebe’s criticism titled, “An Image in Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness” he argues Conrad’s novella should no longer be taught because of it’s racist atmosphere, but Conrad’s ambiguous narrative structure and distinctive writing techniques used in Heart of Darkness only acknowledges racial distinctions to expose the ferocity of colonialism that was going on at the time, and should not only be read, but also closely studied, as it brings attention to political concerns that were being ignored by the English citizens and politicians back then. While Achebe, and many others, interpret Conrad’s writing as “racist”, it is rather just an attempt to sympathize with those who were being oppressed by both imperialism and colonialism, just as he had gone through a similar case with his home country, Poland.

In Achebe’s criticism, he misinterprets Conrad’s purpose of the novella, and states that it should not be considered a great work because it is “a novel which celebrates dehumanization, which depersonalizes a portion of the human race.” But, Achebe fails to differentiate Marlow and Conrad’s views, which results in a misunderstanding of the overall story. Rather than only portraying the African people in a bad light, Conrad puts everyone, no matter their race in a bad connotation.

Conrad begins his novella by describing the characters by their jobs, rather than their names to show how the Europeans were so consumed by their work, and thus emphasizes the hollowness of the European civilization. positive view of Africa, comparing Europe to Africa, the place where man originates from. With the late helmsman Marlow almost feels a connection to him, had formed a kind of bond with him, and a connection to Africa. Conrad starts off the novella by explaining Africans in a bad context, but as the novel goes on, he realizes their humanity.

The matter is more personal to Achebe, and he hates Conrad, so he blows the racism in Heart of Darkness out of proportion. Achebe sees Africa as the Heart of Darkness, but Europeans greed and how they treat Africans can also be considered a heart of darkness. Europeans seem to be able to go to Africa and do whatever they want without any consequence, so the europeans are representing the darkness, not the Africans.

The Symbol of Women in The Heart of Darkness

In the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, women symbolize “pretty illusions” and the European civilization’s capability to hide its bigotry and racism behind “pretty” ideals. In many areas in the book, women are described to be “out of touch” with the truth, and oblivious to the horrific events happening around them. This depiction of women is meant to portray them as lesser than men, and only as followers to the nefarious ideas of the West. They are also seen as devotees that elapse the beliefs of the white colonists, illustrating them as stupid and naive. Throughout history, women have been depicted as such, and Conrad’s novel is no exception.

Joseph Conrad became a citizen in the late nineteenth century— and introduced the public to new perspectives regarding the autonomy of women and the gender roles assigned to them. Due to the presence of these perspectives—and the difficulty in ignoring them due to their controversy—Conrad’s text can ultimately be found sexist due to its portrayal of women as non-complex figures for the male gaze despite the author’s likely introduction to the contrary.

This lack of individuality displayed in the novel represents how women weren’t viewed as singular people, but always paired with a man, or an inanimate object; However, Conrad never hesitates to describe their physical appearance, which is evidently more important than their current personality or name. “she was savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent,” (Conrad 56). This shows the reader how he mentions how magnificent she is, but also throws in the fact that she is ‘savage’. The use of this word gives an understanding as to how Marlow describes the women as beautiful, however, since she is African, he still sees her as an animal because of her race.

Overall, this connects with the theme of women being used as shields to hide the barbaric ideas of the West, because it displays how Marlow describes their appearance, but fails to mention anything about their personality; Thus, women are seen and used in the novel only for their beauty, painting them as the ‘pretty illusions’. This is exemplified because Conrad also gives names to inanimate objects used by men and the colonists, but leaves out the names of actual people, while still pointing out how beautiful they are. Implying that their beauty is their ‘only use’ in the novel, and something that isn’t even human has more worth than them.

In summary, the women in Heart of Darkness are used as “pretty illusions” for the colonists to hide their hypocrisy and racism behind “pretty ideas”. This is illustrated by the fact that Conrad gives women little to no narrative in the book, how Marlow only sees females for their beauty, and how they’re depicted as naive conformists. The minimal narratives given to female characters combined with the superficial view of women display how, in conclusion, Conrad’s novel exemplifies how women keep a pretty picture of the hypocrisy and corruption of the European colonists.


Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad tells the story of the white man’s need for power. Through Marlow’s discovery of madness in humanity he progressively becomes more deranged by the ominous being of Kurtz, Marlow’s newfound understanding of social status, Kurtz’s madness, and his new outlook on society. Throughout Conrad’s novel Marlow learns that not everyone can see through a discerning eye, and it takes a special individual to see the world in this way.

Before Marlow and Kurtz traveled to the Congo, they lived in a mad world, they just couldn’t see it because they lacked a discerning eye. The question posed at the end of the novel is left to the reader to decide whether or not someone with a discerning should try and pass it to the rest of us. If you could see humankind through a discerning eye, would you try and teach others?

Frequently Asked Questions about Heart Of Darkness

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What is the meaning of darkness in Heart of Darkness?
Darkness becomes a symbol of hatred, fear and symbol of the power of evil. Marlow begins his story believing that these elements exists within the jungle, then with the natives and finally makes the realization that darkness lives within the heart of each man, even himself.
What is the heart of darkness for Marlow?
Marlow. The protagonist of Heart of Darkness. Marlow is philosophical, independent-minded, and generally skeptical of those around him. He is also a master storyteller, eloquent and able to draw his listeners into his tale.
Why is Heart of Darkness important?
The essence of savagery, brutality and cruelty sums up in the existence of Kurtz. Kurtz's mission was to civilize the natives, to educate them, to improve their way of living and the important one is to bring the light into their lives and into that dark territory.
What is the moral of Heart of Darkness?
The novella, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad has a strong theme of morality. Conrad's goal using morality is moral confusion. The main character Charlie Marlow sets out on a journey with the European Ivory Trade to Africa. During this journey he discovers a dark dilemma of moral ethics.

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