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Exploring The Heart Of Darkness English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1534 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Marlow's Journey on the congo river is a representation of a journey to find one's inner spirit. "The Heart Of Darkness" explores something deeper than the physical journey made to the congo. In fact it is more about the inner journey the main character makes into his unconscious where he has to confront the realities of his true self. A journey in literature can be used to demonstrate a variety of things. It is often used to signify a journey through life However, in the "Heart of Darkness", Conrad uses the journey both in its literal and figurative meanings. Marlow, undergoes a physical journey that is filled with spiritual, cultural, moral, and political symbols.

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Marlow describes his journey into the depths of the African Congo. He is in search of a man name Kurtz who is an ivory trader. His experiences throughout his journey are physically difficult to overcome. However, even more complex, was the journey that his heart and mind experienced throughout the long ride into the Congo. Marlow states in the story "Imagine him here - the very end of the world, a sea the colour of lead, a sky the colour of smoke, a kind of ship about as rigid as a concertina - and going up this river with stores, or orders, or what you like. Sand-banks, ruthlessly murdered. Beyond this, it is implied that Kurtz has had human arshes, forests, savages, precious little to eat fit for a civilized man, nothing but Thames water to drink. No Falernian wine here, no going ashore. Here and there a military camp lost in a wilderness, like a needle in a bundle of hay - cold, fog, tempests, disease, exile, and death - death skulking in the air, in the water, in the bush. They must have been dying like flies here." (Conrad) Marlow took his exploring very seriously and understood the danger in what he was doing and that didn't stop him from doing what he loved. He was dedicated to this and wanted to eventually be the best in what he was doing by following the greats.

The First time hearing about Kurtz Marlow really was not interested and this quote proves his disinterest "I had heard Mr. Kurtz was in there. I had heard enough about it, too - God knows! Yet somehow it didn't bring any image with it - no more than if I had been told an angel or a fiend was in there. I believed it in the same way one of you might believe there are inhabitants in the planet Mars." (Conrad) To Marlow, the name of Kurtz did not bring with it any image or face. But after hearing what great thing Kurtz had accomplished Marlow almost immediately becomes obsessed with learning more about him. As he journeys, Marlow discovers that Kurtz is not very well-liked, though he is universally respected. He regards Kurtz as an absolute genius whose words and ideas are amazingly powerful, and represents resolutions to many of their problems . Marlow soon falls in love with Kurtz and admires everything he does, he see's him self reflected in Kurtz.

Kurtz is presented as a man destined for great things ,"Oh, he Kurtz will go far, very far,' he began again. 'He will be a somebody in the Administration before long. They, above - the Council in Europe, you know - mean him to be.'" (Conrad) Everyone who knows Kurtz agrees that he has all the ambition and charisma, to achieve greatness. Kurtz clearly has a powerful influence on the people in his life. One thing about Kurtz is that no one really knows the true things about him its what people have heard about him, which makes it a mystery to whom he really is. Although he is a great man and has done wonderful things there is a lot of greed and evilness linked with him. "This clearly was not a case for fisticuffs, even apart from the very natural aversion I had to beat that Shadow - this wandering and tormented thing. 'You will be lost,' I said - 'utterly lost.' One gets sometimes such a flash of inspiration, you know." (Conrad) This Quote is basically saying Kurtz is like a shadow wondering and tormented ,and he is physically, psychologically, and morally lost.

Eventually everyone distinguish the true man that Kurtz is, revealing an overall theme of corruption of man through greed. As everything progressed, it became apparent that Kurtz was not altogether "with it." Years of living in the jungle made him delirious. "Mind, I am not trying to excuse or even explain - I am trying to account to myself for - for - Mr. Kurtz - for the shade of Mr. Kurtz. This initiated wraith from the back of Nowhere honoured me with its amazing confidence before it vanished altogether." (Conrad) This Quote describes Kurtz as not a whole human being, but as a "shade" or "wraith," something that is literally a ghost of its former self and on the verge of vanishing into nothingness. Things seemed to be going down hill for Kurtz he was loosing himself in this journey. "But the wilderness had found him out early, and had taken on him a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion. I think it had whispered to him things about himself which he did not know, things of which he had no conception till he took counsel with this great solitude - and the whisper had proved irresistibly fascinating. It echoed loudly within him because he was hollow at the core […]."(Conrad) The evil wilderness drained Kurtz of his heart and his humanity, leaving him "hollow at the core." Everything he went through eventually led up to him being depleted of feelings, morals, happiness and everything he ever cared about. Kurtz would have been a better person if he had not let his greed get to him. "They only showed that Mr. Kurtz lacked restraint in the gratification of his various lusts, that there was something wanting in him - some small matter which, when the pressing need arose, could not be found under his magnificent eloquence."(Conrad) Marlow comments on Kurtz's lust and on his inability to control his greed. This "lack of restraint" ultimately brings about Kurtz's downfall (Conrad).

Kurtz not only wanted the ivory he wanted everything. "You should have heard him say, 'My ivory.' Oh, yes, I heard him. 'My Intended, my ivory, my station, my river, my - ' everything belonged to him." (Conrad) Kurtz's sense of ownership has been warped by his status as a "god" among the native Africans. He thought everything, including the wilderness he inhabits, belonged to him. Kurtz was not a whole human being anymore. He was a "shadow" that could not handle human emotion at all times. Because he was no longer fully human, Kurtz did not feel the pain of his disease as his body wastes away; he seemed calm in a wholly inhuman way. "I was struck by the fire of his eyes and the composed languor of his expression. It was not so much the exhaustion of disease. He did not seem in pain. This shadow looked satiated and calm, as though for the moment it had had its fill of all the emotions." (Conrad) These were feelings that Marlow expressed during Kurtz last few days. Kurtz dies and his last words were "The Horror! The Horror!", it is interpreted as Kurt's realization of the corruption that he brought upon himself and it was too late to do anything about it.

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The Journey Marlow endured taught him a lot about himself and others. Marlow's revelation did not come to him immediately. His awareness of the truth of reality increased as he pushed further into the Congo. He started off loving and valuing Kurtz and then when Marlow meets Kurtz he has no real opinion about him. Marlow waited all that time to meet Kurtz and when they finally met he felt cheated out of it. "I couldn't have felt more of lonely desolation somehow, had I been robbed of a belief or had missed my destiny in life […]." (Conrad) He felt as if Kurtz in a way let him down. Marlow says "I was fascinated. It was as though a veil had been rent. I saw on that ivory face the expression of sombre pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror - of an intense and hopeless despair. Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge?" (Conrad) Marlow was hypnotized by Kurtz's slow and painful death. He saw all the negative emotions pass over Kurtz's face as he dies pride, ruthlessness, terror, and despair. Kurtz's entire being was claimed by evil, and yet he still fought death. Marlow was not too sure about where he stood at the end of the journey on mostly anything, but he learned a lot about himself during the journey.

So as we have seen Marlow and Kurtz both changed during the trip up the congo. Marlow made the biggest change he found himself during this journey. He developed a love for a man that he had never met. Marlow had a lot of respect for Kurtz, he respected the work he had done throughout his life time. When it came down to it and after meeting Kurtz, Marlow changed his opinion about Kurtz really quick. Though he Began to not admire him as much as he did before he still that the up most respect for him. Marlow saw a part of himself in Kurtz, the thing with it is that Marlow Caught himself before he ended up self destructing himself as Kurtz did. Indeed this Journey was a representaion of Marlow Finding himself.


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