Heart Essay, Research Paper
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, is in actuality two stories. One, is the story of Charlie Marlow’s trip from Europe to the uncivilized Africa and back home to Europe again. The second is the story of a conflict between the manager of an ivory company and Kurtz, an ivory agent. These two stories make the plot and together unify the theme of the novel.
The main character in this novel is Charlie Marlow, a 32-year-old seaman, on his first freshwater voyage up the Congo River. Conrad uses Marlow as a narrator so that he can enter the story in able to tell it from his own point of view. Marlow is disgusted by the manager’s senseless cruelty toward the blacks. Throughout the book he longs to meet Kurtz, the ivory agent. In the course of the journey he turns away from the white people, because of their brutality, and turns toward the jungle which was dark and symbolized truth, he finally welcomes and appreciates the black people. He begins to connect with Kurtz long before they meet till they form a symbolic unity. Marlow and Kurtz are the light and dark souls of one person.
Kurtz also came to the Congo for good deeds. He wanted to turn ivory station into beacon lights to offer a better way of life to the natives. Kurtz was a poet, writer, artist, musician, politician, ivory procurer, and chief agent of the ivory company’s Inner Station at Stanley Falls. Kurtz is also a thief, murderer, raider, and even allows himself to be worshiped as a god. Marlow does not see Kurtz till he’s sick, and very physically ill that it shows, Marlow says that his head is so bald that it resembles “an animated image of death carved out of old ivory.” Kurtz is the violent devil whom Marlow describes at the beginning of the story.
The manager, based on the real person Camille Delcommune, is the villain of the plot. He is either directly or indirectly blamed for all the disorder, cruelty, and neglect that curses the stations. Marlow believes that the manager arranged to wreck the steamboat in order to delay help to Kurtz, he also prevents rivets from coming to repair the steamboat. The manager’s cruelty is shown when a young black boy is beaten for a fire that burned a shed full of trash; the boy was probably innocent.
In this novel, black and white have the usual connotation of evil and good. White people have the black souls, and the black people have the white souls. The jungle symbolizes truth and reality. Grass is also used a lot to show men’s evils and goodness, just like grass it comes and goes, sometimes in bunches other times scarcely.
Conrad wrote this novel to show a man’s search for self-knowledge. The book ended with a lie, which was an affirmation of the truth, so maybe Conrad’s main goal is the discovery of the double aspects of truth; black truth and white truth, both present in every soul. Marlow on the other hand, struggles to seek the truth; he wants to hear Kurtz’s voice which symbolizes his inner-truth. Marlow in the end finds his dark self in Kurtz. The black people are the truth and reality; they have the white souls, while the white people have the black souls. Every soul has a dark truth and a light truth, and a man’s inhumanity to another man is that man’s greatest sin.