Heart of Darkness

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Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

Topic : Heart of Darkness has been called a night journey, a voyage into the subconscious, an initiation. Comment on these definitions.

Heart of Darkness is a novella written by Joseph Conrad in 1899. The book follows the story of Marlow, a sailor telling his travel into the depth of Belgian Congo through the use of retrospective narration. Though can be considered the main narrator, the story is told through the eye of an unnamed person present on the boat, a “frame narrator”, who listens to Marlow's tale. Throughout the ages, Heart of Darkness has been illustrated as a night journey, a voyage into the subconscious as well as an initiation. These elements are justifiable due to the number of examples relying on such definitions.

Heart of Darkness has been recalled as a night journey. Indeed, the book describes the Marlow's progression through the Congo in which he evolves from innocence and goodness to being familiar with the true nature of evil. Throughout the novel, the concept of darkness used to represent evil is represented metaphorically, literally as well as psychologically. The main characters of Heart of Darkness are Marlow and Kurtz. Though both characters are different, they are both presented with similar mental and physical traits. In addition to the growth of man from innocence to familiarity with evil, it is possible to interpret the character of Kurtz as a representation of evil and Marlow as one of good. The night journey of the novel is described within Marlow's character. Even before his departure to the Congo, Marlow says that Africa “had become a place of darkness”. With this, he shows the reader a sense of depravity towards the continent. When later Marlow describes the river as a “mighty big river resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head at sea, its body at rest...
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