Heart of Darkness – An Allegory?

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The novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is not a straightforward fable, but rather a complex and meaningful work that can be interpreted in multiple ways. The descent into madness of Mr. Kurtz can be seen as a metaphor for the colonization and destruction of Africa by Europe. Kurtz represents Europe, while the harlequin represents Africa. Kurtz’s treatment of the Russian mirrors the way Europeans governed Africa and extracted its resources. The two voyages in the novel, the physical journey up the Congo River and Marlow’s internal journey, are separate plot developments that are closely linked. While the novel contains symbolism and double meanings, it does not meet the criteria of a true fable.

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Heart of Darkness is in its entireness non an fable. Its surface is excessively profound and meaningful to let itself to be interpreted in more than two ways. There are nevertheless several parts in the novel that intimation at the antonym and that prove that the context of the novel can be seen from more than one angle.

This can chiefly be perceived in the life of Mr. Kurtz. as his descent into lunacy can be seen as an fable for the colonisation and devastation of the African continent and its people by the Europeans. Because merely as Kurtz was a absolutely sane and normal adult male before he went into the African wilderness so were besides the European states really civilized before they came to Africa. And merely as the states of Europe governed Africa and its people without regulations and limitations so did isolation oblige Mr. Kurtz to populate his life without boundaries. Proof of this can be found on page 83. “His female parent was half-English his male parent was half-French. All of Europe contributed to the devising of Kurtz. ” This shows that Kurtz can be seen as a symbol of Europe. as he is the typical European adventurer – ambitious. greedy and adventuresome.

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And if Kurtz is Europe embodied so it would be rather logical that Africa should be represented by the “harlequin” ( p. 87 ) his faithful Russian companion. Their relation greatly resembles that of the relation between Africa and Europe. although the African people act rather otherwise to their “masters” compared to how the Russian acted towards Kurtz. The similarities lay in how the maestro treats the subsidiary. “He wanted to hit me excessively one day… . I had a little batch of ivory…he wanted it. and wouldn’t hear reason…and there was nil on Earth to forestall him killing whom he reasonably good pleased. ” ( p. 92 ) . The manner Kurtz treats the Russian is mirrored in the manner the Europeans governed Africa and extracted its wealths. They stopped at nil to do their settlements as effectual and comfortable as possible. This of class included killing any resistance. or in the words of Conrad. killing whoever they reasonably good pleased.

In decision it can be said that the two ocean trips in Heart of Darkness. the 1 in the head and the 1 on the Congo River. are non every bit much an fable as they are descriptions of two separate. but still closely linked. secret plan developments. For illustration. as the company sails of all time closer to Kurtz and the bosom of the African jungle Marlow’s internal ocean trip alters his ethical motives and sentiments harmonizing to his experiences. This might look as an fable to some. as it features two separate degrees. one comparatively superficial the other implicit in and sometimes besides really symbolic. as when Kurtz is portrayed as a Satan.

However the novel misses out on the most of import facet of an fable. that of it holding a bed used merely to stand for or propose other elements. frequently abstract. than those found in the chief narrative. So although Heart of Darkness contains much symbolism and double significances. it falls short of being a true fable of anything. but possibly the ocean trip of Mr. Kurtz soul.

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Heart of Darkness – An Allegory?. (2017, Sep 27). Retrieved from


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