Analysis of First Passage in Heart of Darkness

Topics: King Leopold's Ghost, Congo Free State, Leopold II of Belgium Pages: 1 (312 words) Published: June 1, 2006
Heart of Darkness: passage 1
The first passage of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad foreshadows the evil to come in the following chapters. It is an introduction to the novel and the theme is introduced also. A theme of Heart of Darkness explores the issues surrounding imperialism and unveils the evil in every aspect of it. The author seems to feel angry and upset over what is happening with imperialism in the world. In this passage he downgrades the society of the time who have chosen to tear apart civilizations. This first passage foreshadows the "darkness" to come in the future chapters. This can be seen when the narrator explains how the sea can "unfold the secret of a whole continent, and generally he finds the secret not worth knowing"(48). Conrad must have felt this excitement upon hearing the news that he was to travel to the Congo for four months. After witnessing the "abomination"(50) that took place in the Congo under the rule of King Leopold II, Conrad felt that "the secret" he was so enthusiastic about four months prior was "never worth knowing". The theme of Heart of Darkness is the immorality of imperialism. The narrator expresses the widespread belief that imperialism is a glorious and worthy enterprise. However, Conrad sees the evil in imperialism and the meaning of this passage is to figure out if Conrad agrees with the torture being inflicted on the natives. The narrator can see the shame in what is being done to the natives and feels imperialism is no more than conquest of other people's land, "which most likely means taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves"(50). Unlike most of his comrades, Marlow identifies the immorality in stealing these peoples lives who are not that much different than himself.
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