Power Corruption in Heart of Darkness

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In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the author fiercely challenges imperialism. Through this challenge, he demonstrates the internal battles of good and evil. In his work, he also displays issues of personal morals and alienation. At the time the novella was written, Europe had established territories across the map. It holds true that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, especially when said power reigns over the fate of humans in society. Conrad illustrates the corruption of power through the books’ motif of darkness and the renegade of Kurtz.

Darkness makes a quick appearance in the literature because it’s in the title. Darkness is seen on the river. “And the river was there- fascinating— deadly—like a snake.” (Conrad 7) Marlow used the river as his outlet from the darkness of the Congo, seeing it as a way to escape from the disappointments and hostility of the mainland. As an example of corruption of power, one may see how Marlow strives be looked up to, not by the natives, but by his peers. He is willing to let power over take him and thrive as the main influence in his life, whether be it negative or positive. Recurring throughout the book, it makes a heavy appearance when reading descriptions of the barbaric ways of the natives. Their customs are in heavy contrast to the normal European civilization. For example, the Accountant, in his prim white suits, is much different from the Cannibals who are described as savage. The power the Accountant and the company have over the Africans leaves one to wonder whether to blame the system or the individuals within. The attack on imperialism in this sense heavily insults the system, describing Belgium and London as the true hearts of darkness.

Darkness is also seen in the character Kurtz, for he is a man in the place of power. Kurtz openly displayed his disgust for the ways of the natives, calling them ignorant savages. Although not a natural part of the Native’s society, he certainly made...
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