Who Had the Heart of Darkness? Thousands of scholars all throughout the twentieth century have weighed in on Joseph Conrad's infamous 1902 publication, Heart of Darkness. Confronting the devastating effects of the colonization of Africa, Conrad's novel takes it's European narrator, Marlow, through unspeakable darkness as the African jungles come alive and the colonization of the Continent's states unfolds. It's needless to say that Conrad's work remains legendary, but a great deal of its legend lies as a result of its controversy. Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian writer known to be much less than enthusiastic about Conrad's work, calls Conrad himself a "bloody racist" declaring Heart of Darkness amongst the most offensive writings of the twentieth century. While Achebe is not alone, many other scholars, including Caryl Phillips argue against his ideas arguing on behalf on Conrad, fighting diligently to disprove the novel's racism that is allegedly found at it's core. While both sides are powerful, it is important to see the separation between Achebe's ideas and those that the novel truly represents as the political narrative that Conrad intended it to be. To enhance the clarity of these arguments, seeing each through different lenses of modern critical theory will help immensely. Post-Colonialism, a newer addition to the critical theory collection is described by Lois Tyson as she declares its purpose to address "the problem[s] of cultural identity as represented in postcolonial literature." (Tyson 419) This essentially means that in reviewing texts with post colonialists' ideals in mind, attempting to find what Tyson calls the "colonialist ideology" (referring to the true ideologies of the colonists of the time) is the key to figuring out the text. Tyson continues discussing the colonists' natural "assumption of their own superiority, which they contrasted with the alleged inferiority of native (indigenous) peoples." (Tyson 419) The post colonialists' ideals expressed by Tyson (and reaffirmed by Phillips) have been in existence since organized colonization began centuries ago and certainly do not fall short as they're presented in Heart of Darkness. Phillips discusses a great deal in his writings about his interpretation of Conrad's intentions, while also sharing a lot regarding the historical context of the novel. On the second page of his writing, Phillips comments on the world of the time as he says "Written in the wake of the 1884 Berlin Conference, which saw the continent of Africa carved into a 'magnificent cake' and divided among European nations, Heart of Darkness offers its readers an insight into the 'dark' world of Africa." (Phillips xiv) As Conrad's novel was published in 1902, it's writing occurred in the immediate aftermath of the Berlin Conference at a time where Africa as it was, and as Conrad saw it, was undergoing a great division socially and politically. "Conrad uses colonization, and the trading intercourse that flourished in its wake, to explore these universal questions about mans capacity for evil. The end of European colonization has not rendered this Heart of Darkness any less relevant, for Conrad is interested in the making of a modern world in which colonization is simply one facet." (Phillips xvi) One of Phillips' greatest points, here he argues that the colonization and the story itself prove to be important as they answer questions about both history or society and history of man. Conrad addresses the societal setting in his novel as a cruel world because that's the world that he saw when he was there. The harsh realities of the colonization of Africa were all but too real, and as many would argue, Conrad did his artistic duty to preserve the horrific world that he saw. While one of Achebe's arguments is that Conrad wrongly used the novel as a political form, Phillips writes that it is a political form and that it should remain that way. "Like all art it wishes to produce change."…
“Heart of Darkness” written by Joseph Conrad is a tale of a man named Marlow who ventures into Africa. Having always had a yearning to explore this dark country, he takes us on his journey along the Congo River and through the trials and tribulations of imperialism in the late 19th century. Not only does Marlow get an insight to his own self but he learns how imperialism affects other people as well.
From the beginning the work Darkness doesn’t just appear in the title but also in much of Marlow’s…
9 May 2014
Soul of Darkness
Some of the traits of well-adjusted humans are that they empathize and identify with people around them. At the point when people lose this ability, they start to lessen their relations to humanity and increase their degree of savagery. In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Conrad demonstrates that humans enclose some form of bitterness within his or her heart. This bitterness becomes evident when people strip themselves of…
English 12 AP
1 May 2013
The physical journey Joseph Conrad takes the reader in the Heart of Darkness contributes to the plot, but also parallels to a journey through Man’s inner self. The points in the physical journey in which Conrad uses to emphasize the plot are the small sailing craft, the steamboat, and the jungle.
Conrad begins the journey with the narrator describing the setting of a small sailing craft. This point in the journey foreshadows…
How is Darkness Expressed in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness?
Heart of Darkness is perhaps the most written-about story in English literature, certainly Joseph Conrad’s most written-about work. Dismissed by some early critics (such as F.R. Leavis) for being vague in language, this short novel certainly makes its impact not primarily through direct statement but through imagery, metaphor and an air of accumulation and imprecision – as his narrator, Marlow, attempts slowly to define and to make sense…
Guilt, disappointment and the fear behind Kurtz’s death
March 3rd, 2012
Verbal statements may have multiple interpretations depending on one's perspective. In the novel, Heart of Darkness, Conrad makes the reader use his/her own knowledge to generate themes and emotions. Consistently, the theme of the horrific reality is mentioned throughout the novel. Joseph’s character, Kurtz, cries out, “The horror! The horror” (Conrad 86) during his last moments; however…
Sir Parnell Stevenson
November 19, 2014
Heart of Darkness Paper
The novel Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad has an overwhelming condemnation of imperialism. The beginning of the book describes the journey of Charles Marlow which takes him into the interior of the African continent and the fact that he was asked by the trading company to find Mr. Kurtz, who is the Inner Station Chief who is dominating the region as well as putting the natives of the Congo…
of the Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, it appears much easier to be lost rather than found. Heart of Darkness follows Marlow, a wondering seaman who embarks on a journey to Africa under a fake identity which he established through his politically connected Aunt. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness may be interpreted in various ways, as it tells many different stories which relate to stories of its time, and also stories that still appear to resonate at the present time. On one level, Heart of Darkness…
1. Some critics believe that in Heart of Darkness Conrad illustrates how ‘’the darkness of the landscape can lead to the darkness of the social corruption.” This statement means that if the environment is dark, then the people in that environment will match the surrounding feeling, which is dark and depressing. For example, if it is a gloomy rainy day, most people feel tired and not as happy. If it is a bright sunny day, the most people feel motivated to get things done and joyful. Yes, this…
The Visions of Light Vs Darkness
When Joseph Conrad composed Heart of Darkness he created a literary masterpiece which embodied the essence of light contrasting with darkness. Throughout the novel Conrad constantly utilizes the images of light and dark and uses them to mold a vision, which the reader is then able to use to decipher the literal and metaphorical meanings of the novel. As Conrad said, " my task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to…