Essay on Heart of Darkness

Submitted By kbacon7
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Pages: 6

Mrs. Ingersoll
English 12 AP
1 May 2013 Option Three 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 a lot of what is to come and what is to be found in the jungle. Conrad essentially uses this point of the journey to allude to themes that relate to the plot of Heart of Darkness such as: exploration, soul of man, man’s primitive abilities, and fascination with abomination. First, Conrad uses the small the sailing craft to contribute exploration to his work: “A haze rested on the low shores that ran out to sea in vanishing flatness” (65). This section of the journey presents the plot with the idea of exploration, not just of the jungle, but of man’s soul. Conrad intends for this setting to symbolize there is always more than what appears just over the horizon, just as there is more than what appears to man’s nature. The next branch of this journey supplements the plot with an allusion towards man’s sins: “The air was dark above Gravesend, and farther back still seemed condensed into a mournful gloom, brooding motionless over the biggest, and the greatest, town on earth” (65). This description can be analyzed as the town symbolizing man’s greatest accomplishments, while the fog represents the negative consequences of man’s accomplishments. An example of this could be mercantilism, but mostly Conrad is using this segment of the journey to refer to imperialism since Marlow’s journey is centered on it. In the end, Conrad implies that imperialism and the idea of creating a great civilization is one of man’s greatest ideas, but the consequences that follow make it tremendously less glamorous. In the next branch of the physical journey, Conrad continues his allusion to the chaos man has left behind him: “It was difficult to realize his work was not out there in the luminous estuary, but behind him, within the brooding gloom” (65). Conrad uses this location to deliver the plot with the notion that man must choose to come to terms with what he has done. Conrad recognizes the mess man leaves behind when he finishes “civilizing” an area and sees that civilizing others is not the hard part. The hard part is advancing without hurting other nations, and Conrad simply uses a seaman on a small craft to symbolize this. Conrad uses the small sailing craft to bestow the plot with exploration of man’s soul, imperialism’s consequences, and demonstrate that man’s work lies in the path he left behind him, not ahead. The next element of the journey that contributes to the meaning of the plot is the steamboat. The steamboat portion of the journey provides the plot with a closer connection to the jungle, even if Marlow is not immersed in it yet: “The steamer toiled along slowly on the edge of a black and incomprehensible frenzy. The prehistoric man was cursing us, praying to us, welcoming us” (108). The steamboat attributes the degradation of the civilized men on the boat to the plot. Marlow, here, feels his primitive instinct pulling at him and oddly feels welcomed by this. This setting also provides the idea that the deeper Marlow explores into uncivilized territory, the darker the men become on the inside even if they are white men. Another scene from the steamboat confronts man’s profound darkness as they creep along the river, Marlow describes his surroundings: “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” (108). This part of the journey adds man’s true identity to the plot. Marlow implies that man is the shackled monster where the