Heart of Darkness: the Journey in to the Unconscious

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Marlow’s journey in Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, traverses not only the volatile waters spanning the Congo, but also ventures in to his unconscious self. It is a voyage into the depths of the human heart and mind, leading to enlightenment revealing of the crevices of the hell existing within each and every one of us. Although through Marlow, Conrad depicts a journey into the Congo, his use of symbolic language evokes that it is something much more profound, a journey in to the self. Starting at the very beginning of the novel there are many major indications giving foresight that the voyage that is to occur is indeed an inward one. Initiating on the Nellie the first indication of this is Marlow’s posture. The narrator describes Marlow such that "he had the pose of a Buddha preaching in European clothes and without a lotus-flower." His mediatory position, often used in the pursuit of an understanding of human nature, gives the reader the first inclination that his journey is actually within himself. Also when Marlow goes in to “The Company” to “show myself to my employer, and sign the contract” Marlow is greeted with two silent women spinning black wool. The women represent the Fates of Greek mythology, which spin threads of wool which symbolizes a person's life. The fact that these women's thread is black creates a foreboding effect. Once Marlow signs the contract he is then left for “yet a visit to the doctor”, the doctor checks on him and then continues to engage in phrenology measuring the Marlow’s Crania. He then tells Marlow that “the change takes place inside” referring to inside his brain again indicating the notion “That Marlow might be setting on a journey into the unconscious”. (Journey into the Unconscious) “Marlow’s trip from Europe to the Outer, then to the Central, station already tests his capacity to discriminate between good and evil” (Journey into the Self) as Marlow forges further toward “the Heart of Darkness” his ‘superego’ is tested,...
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