An Analysis of Conrad¡¯S Heart of Darkness

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In the twentieth century, nihilistic themes, such as moral degeneration, man¡¯s bestial instincts at the core of the soul, and cosmic purposelessness, have preoccupied many works of literature and philosophy. Joseph Conrad¡¯s Heart of Darkness is no exception. In his novel, Conrad uses a unique writing style to explore man¡¯s fundamental fallibility and moral confusion in an existential world through his character¡¯s journey on the Congo River. The story¡¯s exposition sets the stage as Marlow tells his story to his fellow sailormen while they wait for the tide to turn on the Thames River. In his story, Marlow signs up to work abroad for the Belgian Company to where he believes is exciting uncharted territory at the heart of Africa, still black with mystery on the map. The rising action continues to build up as Marlow witnesses how cruelly the Company employees treat the natives and how the Europeans (including himself eventually) break down mentally and physically in the African environment. Marlow also grows more intrigued at the prevalent reputation of the mysterious trader Kurtz who is rumored to be a remarkable and humane man. Conflicts arise in Marlow¡¯s struggle between his value of ¡°civilization¡± and the evil within man and finally peak in the climax, where, upon finally reaching the Inner Station, Marlow realizes that Kurtz is an openly brutal man who has completely abandoned European morals and normal behavior. The falling action is brought about after Kurtz¡¯s death as Marlow takes responsibility of Kurtz¡¯s legacy and chooses to remain loyal to Kurtz. Finally, in the book¡¯s resolution, Marlow visits Kurtz¡¯s Intended and not having the heart to tell her the awful truth of man¡¯s dark soul, lies to her about Kurtz¡¯s last words. Running throughout the book is the theme of the heart of darkness, which is in man. Though at first darkness is referred to superficial ideas such as the undiscovered and mysterious lands at the heart of Africa or the...
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