Heart of Darkness

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The Transformation of Marlow - Conrad’s Explication of Europe’s Colonial Practice in Africa

In “Heart of Darkness” Conrad introduces his protagonist Marlow, his journey through the African Congo and the “enlightenment” of his soul. With the skilled use of symbols and Marlow’s experience he depicts the European colonialism in Africa, practice Conrad witnessed himself. Through Marlow’s observations he explicates the naiveness of the Europeans and the hypocritical purpose of their travelling into the “dark” continent. Marlow’s experience in Africa starts with the desire for travel and great journeys to conquer the “blank spaces” on the map and the naive believe that the mission of the Europeans is to civilize the natives. Marlow’s aunt believes that this voyage is a mission to “wean those ignorant millions from their horrid ways.” (Conrad, 16). In reality everywhere they went they colonized the land, used the natural resources, and left ruins behind them. Marlow says, “They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind - as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves...” (Conrad, 10). With the unfolding of his journey Marlow starts his “enlightenment.” We can observe his evolution from “everyday European” to someone who realizes his own naiveness and begins to see the surrounding reality. This is the moment when he witnesses the shelling of the continent, “In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was,incomprehensible, firing into a continent. Pop, would go one...
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