Heart of Darkness Symbolic Analysis

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In the novel Heart of Darkness the focus is mainly about the situation of imperialism in that time period. It describes the hypocrisy of imperialism, the madness as a result of imperialism, and the absurdity of evil. In reality the book is about much more than that. Marlow is the narrator and throughout the novel his visions and thoughts about himself change greatly as he endures the journey of self-discovery.

In the beginning Marlow feels lost in his life; the main focus in life to him was being a sailor on the steamboat. Marlow is very naïve and has not seen as much of life as he should be seeing in order to expand his overall knowledge of the world. Marlow describes the ship and the ocean as if it was the only thing he had ever seen in his whole life. (Part 1) The fact that the beginning starts with Marlow’s description of the sea, and the facts of imperialism do not start until later indicates that imperialism was not the only reason Joseph Conrad wrote the novel. Imperialism is the policy of extending authority of a nation over foreign countries. In this case Marlow is traveling up the river to the Inner station where he encounters cruelty and torture of the salvages.(Part 1) The men who work for the Company describe what they do as “trade,” and their treatment of native Africans is part of a benevolent project of “civilization.” In reality what they are doing is taking the ivory by force in command to the orders that Kurtz demands. Kurtz knows what he is doing but he makes the other men believe it is not out of cruelty or imperialism. Through all of this Marlow is stuck in the middle because he is blinded by the good that is said of Kurtz and he refers to him as a remarkable man (Part 3), which ends up hurting his relationship with the rest of the company because they know the truth and they strongly disagree. Marlow does not know until the end of the book exactly how mad and narcissistic Kurtz really is and the damage he is doing by trying to get...
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